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MARLBOROUGH 
AND OTHER POEMS 




CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS 

C. F. CLAY, MANAGER 
LONDON : FETTER LANE, E.C. 4 

NEW YORK : G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 
BOMBAY } 

CALCUTTA [ MACMILLAN AND CO., LTD. 
MADRAS J 

TORONTO : J. M. DENT AND SONS, LTD. 
TOKYO : MARUZEN-KABUSHIKI-KAISHA 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 






MARLBOROUGH 

AND OTHER POEMS 

BY 
CHARLES HAMILTON SORLEY 



Fourth Edition 




CAMBRIDGE 

AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS 
1919 



Published, January 1916 
Second edition, slightly enlarged, February 1916 

Reprinted, February, April, May 1916 

77iird edition, with illustrations in prose, November 1916 

Fourth edition, re-arranged and re-set, May 1919 



037 




1919 



PREFACE 

THE call for a new edition of these poems gives an 
opportunity for issuing them in a form which is 
intended to be definitive. 

They are now arranged in four groups according 
to subject. It is true that all of them perhaps might 
be described by the title of one of these groups, as 
poems of life and thought. But some owe their 
inspiration directly to nature to the wind-swept 
downs which the author loved and which he looked 
upon as "wise" as well as "wide"; a few reflect 
the experiences of school life ; yet others show how 
his spirit faced the great adventure of war and 
death. Within each group the poems are printed, 
as nearly as may be, in the order of their composi- 
tion, the title-poem being restored to its proper 
chronological place. When the date, exact or 
approximate, is known, it has been given ; in those 
cases in which the date specifies the day of the 
month, it has been taken from the author's manu- 
script. 

A single piece of imaginative prose is included 
amongst the poems. Other passages of prose were 
added to the third edition with the view of illus- 
trating ideas occurring in the poems and prominent 
in the author's mind. With the exception of a 



few sentences from an early essay, these prose 
passages are all taken froih familiar letters. To 
the present edition a few notes have been appended, 
in which some topical allusions are explained and 
what is known about the origin of the separate 
pieces is told. 

The frontispiece is from a drawing in chalks by 
Mr Cecil Jameson. 

Of the author personally, and of what he was 
to his family and his friends, I do not speak. Yet 
I may quote the phrase used by a German lady in 
whose house he had been living for three months. 
"The time with him," she wrote, "was like a 
holiday and a feast-day." Many have felt what 
she put into words: though it was the graver 
moods of his mind that, for the most part, sought 
expression in his poems. I may also put on record 
here the main facts concerning his short life. 

He was born at Old Aberdeen on iQth May 
1895. His father was then a professor in the 
University of Aberdeen, and he was of Scottish 
descent on both sides. From 1900 onwards his 
home was in Cambridge. He was educated at 
Marlborough College, which he entered in September 
1908 and left in December 1913, after obtaining a 
scholarship at University College, Oxford. Owing 
to the war he never went into residence at the 
University. After leaving school he spent a little 
more than six months in Germany, first at Schwerin 
in Mecklenburg and afterwards, for the summer 
vi 






session, at the University of Jena. He was on a 
walking tour on the banks of the Moselle when the 
European war broke out. He was put in prison at 
Trier on the 2nd August, but released the same 
night with orders to leave the country. After some 
adventures he reached home on the 6th, and at 
once applied for a commission in the army. He was 
gazetted Second Lieutenant in the Seventh (Service) 
Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment before the end 
of the month, Lieutenant in November, and 
Captain in the following August. He was sent to 
France with his battalion on 30th May 1915, and 
served for some months in the trenches round 
Ploegsteert. Shortly after he had entered upon his 
life there, a suggestion was made to him about 
printing a slim volume of verse. But he put the 
suggestion aside as premature. "Besides," he 
added, "this is no time for oliveyards and vine- 
yards, more especially of the small-holdings type. 
For three years or the duration of the war, let be." 
Four months later his warfare was accomplished. 
His battalion was moved south to take part in 
the battle of Loos, and he fell on I3th October 
1915, in an attack in which the "hair-pin" trench 
near Hulluch was captured by his company. 
"Being made perfect in a little while, he fulfilled 
long years." 

W. R. S. 

CAMBRIDGE, March 1919 
vii 



CONTENTS 
OF THE DOWNS 

PAGE 

I BARBURY CAMP ... 3 

II STONES 6 

III EAST KENNET CHURCH AT 

EVENING .... 8 

IV AUTUMN DAWN . . _ . 10 
V RETURN .... 13 

VI RICHARD JEFFERIES . . 15 

VII J. B. . . . . . 16 

VIII THE OTHER WISE MAN . . 17 

IX MARLBOROUGH ... 23 

X LE REVENANT ... 26 

XI LOST 29 



OF SCHOOL 

XII RAIN .... 

XIII A TALE OF TWO CAREERS 

XIV WHAT YOU WILL . 

ix 



33 
36 
40 



OF LIFE AND THOUGHT 

PAGE 

XV A CALL TO ACTION . . 45 

XVI PEACE .... 48 

XVII THE RIVER ... 51 

XVIII THE SEEKERS . . -54 

XIX ROOKS .... 56 

XX ROOKS (ll) . . .57 

XXI THE SONG OF THE UNGIRT 

RUNNERS ... 59 

XXII GERMAN RAIN . . 60 

XXIII BRAND 6l 

XXIV PEER GYNT ... 62 
XXV TO POETS .... 63 

XXVI "IF I HAVE SUFFERED PAIN" 64 

XXVII WHOM THEREFORE WE IG- 

NORANTLY WORSHIP . 66 

XXVIII DEUS LOQUITUR . . 67 

XXIX EXPECTANS EXPECTAVI 68 



XXX 



OF WAR AND DEATH 

"ALL THE HILLS AND VALES 
ALONG" . 



XXXI TO GERMANY 

X 



71 

73 



PAGE 

XXXII "A HUNDRED THOUSAND 

MILLION MITES WE GO". 74 

XXXIII TWO SONNETS ... 76 

XXXIV A SONNET ... 78 

xxxv "THERE is SUCH CHANGE IN 

ALL THOSE FIELDS*' . 79 

XXXVI "I HAVE NOT BROUGHT MY 

ODYSSEY" 81 

XXXVII IN MEMORIAM S. C. W., V.C. 85 

XXXVIII BEHIND THE LINES . . 86 

ILLUSTRATIONS IN PROSE ... 93 

NOTES 127 



OF THE DOWNS 



WEbu 



BARBURY CAMP 



burrowed night and day with tools of lead, 
Heaped the bank up and cast it in a ring 
And hurled the earth above. And Caesar said, 
"Why, it is excellent. I like the thing." 
We, who are dead, 
Made it, and wrought, and Caesar liked the thing. 



And here we strove, and here we felt each vein 
Ice-bound, each limb fast-frozen, all night long. 
And here we held communion with the rain 
That lashed us into manhoQd with its thong, 
Cleansing through pain, 
id the wind visited us and made us strong. 



from around us, numbers without name, 
Strong men and naked, vast, on either hand 
Pressing us in, they came. And the wind came 
And bitter rain, turning grey all the land. 
That was our game, 
To fight with men and storms, and it was grand. 






For many days we fought them, and our sweat 
Watered the grass, making it spring up green, 
Blooming for us. And, if the wind was wet, 
Our blood wetted the wind, making it keen 
With the hatred 
And wrath and courage that our blood had been. 

So, fighting men and winds and tempests, hot 

With joy and hate and battle-lust, we fell 

Where we fought. And God said, "Killed at last 

then? What! 

Ye that are too strong for heaven, too clean for hell, 
(God said) stir not. 
This be your heaven, or, if ye will, your hell." 

So again we fight and wrestle, and again 

Hurl the earth up and cast it in a ring. 

But when the wind comes up, driving the rain 

(Each rain-drop a fiery steed), and the mists rolling 

Up from the plain, 

This wild procession, this impetuous thing, 

Hold us amazed. We mount the wind-cars, then 
Whip up the steeds and drive through all the world, 
Searching to find somewhere some brethren, 
Sons of the winds and waters of the world. 
We, who were men, 
Have sought, and found no men in all this world. 

4 



Wind, that has blown here always ceaselessly, 
Bringing, if any man can understand, 
Might to the mighty, freedom to the free; 
Wind, that has caught us, cleansed us, made us 

grand, 

Wind that is we 
(We that were men) make men in all this land, 



n 



at so may live and wrestle and hate that when 
They fall at last exultant, as we fell, 
And come to God, God may say, "Do you come then 
Mildly enquiring, is it heaven or hell? 
Why ! Ye were men ! 

Back to your winds and rains. Be these your heaven 
and hell!" 

24 March 1913 



II 

STONES 

THIS field is almost white with stones 
That cumber all its thirsty crust. 

And underneath, I know, are bones, 
And all around is death and dust. 



And if you love a livelier hue 
O, if you love the youth of year, 

When all is clean and green and new, 
Depart. There is no summer here. 



Albeit, to me there lingers yet 
In this forbidding stony dress 

The impotent and dim regret 
For some forgotten restlessness. 



Dumb, imperceptibly astir, 
These relics of an ancient race, 

These men, in whom the dead bones were 
Still fortifying their resting-place. 
6 



Their field of life was white with stones; 

Good fruit to earth they never brought. 
O, in these bleached and buried bones 

Was neither love nor faith nor thought. 



But like the wind in this bleak place, 
Bitter and bleak and sharp they grew, 

And bitterly they ran their race, 
A brutal, bad, unkindly crew: 



Souls like the dry earth, hearts like stone, 
Brains like that barren bramble-tree: 

Stern, sterile, senseless, mute, unknown 
But bold, O, bolder far than we ! 



14 July 1913 



Ill 



I STOOD amongst the corn, and watched 

The evening coming down. 
The rising vale was like a queen, 

And the dim church her crown. 



Crown-like it stood against the hills. 

Its form was passing fair. 
I almost saw the tribes go up 

To offer incense there. 



And far below the long vale stretched. 

As a sleeper she did seem 
That after some brief restlessness 

Has now begun to dream. 



(All day the wakefulness of men, 
Their lives and labours brief, 

Have broken her long troubled sleep. 
Now, evening brings relief.) 




There was no motion there, nor sound. 

She did not seem to rise. 
Yet was she wrapping herself in 

Her grey of night-disguise. 

'or now no church nor tree nor fold 
Was visible to me : 
Only that fading into one 
Which God must sometimes see. 

No coloured glory streaked the sky 

To mark the sinking sun. 
There was no redness in the west 

To tell that day was done. 

Only, the greyness of the eve 

Grew fuller than before. 
And, in its fulness, it made one 

Of what had once been more. 

There was much beauty in that sight 
That man must not long see. 

God dropped the kindly veil of night 
Between its end and me. 

24 July 1913 



IV 
AUTUMN DAWN 

AND this is morning. Would you think 

That this was the morning, when the land 

Is full of heavy eyes that blink 

Half-opened, and the tall trees stand 

Too tired to shake away the drops 

Of passing night that cling around 

Their branches and weigh down their tops: 

And the grey sky leans on the ground? 

The thrush sings once or twice, but stops 

Affrighted by the silent sound. 

The sheep, scarce moving, munches, moans. 

The slow herd mumbles, thick with phlegm. 

The grey road-mender, hacking stones, 

Is now become as one of them. 

Old mother Earth has rubbed her eyes 

And stayed, so senseless, lying down. 

Old mother is too tired to rise 

And lay aside her grey nightgown, 

And come with singing and with strength 

In loud exuberance of day, 

Swift-darting. She is tired at length, 

Done up, past bearing, you would say. 

10 



She'll come no more in lust of strife, 
In hedge's leap, and wild bird's cries, 
In winds that cut you like a knife, 
In days of laughter and swift skies, 
That palpably pulsate with life, 
With life that kills, with life that dies. 
But in a morning such as this 
Is neither life nor death to see, 
Only that state which some call bliss, 
Grey hopeless immortality. 
Earth is at length bedrid. She is 
Supinest of the things that be: 
And stilly, heavy with long years, 
Brings forth such days in dumb regret, 
Immortal days, that rise in tears, 
And cannot, though they strive to, set. 



The mists do move. The wind takes breath. 
The sun appeareth over there, 
And with red fingers hasteneth 
From Earth's grey bed the clothes to tear, 
And strike the heavy mist's dank tent. 
And Earth uprises with a sigh. 
She is astir. She is not spent. 
And yet she lives and yet can die. 
The grey road-mender from the ditch 
Looks up. He has not looked before. 
The stunted tree sways like the witch 
It was: 'tis living witch once more, 
ii 



The winds are washen. In the deep 
Dew of the morn they've washed. The skies 
Are changing dress. The clumsy sheep 
Bound, and earth's many bosoms rise, 
And earth's green tresses spring and leap 
About her brow. The earth has eyes, 
The earth has voice, the earth has breath, 
As o'er the land and through the air, 
With winged sandals, Life and Death 
Speed hand in hand that winsome pair ! 

1 6 September 1913 



12 






RETURN 



STILL stand the downs so wise and wide? 

Still shake the trees their tresses grejt? 
I thought their beauty might have died 

Since I had been away. 



I might have known the things I love, 
The winds, the flocking birds' full cry, 

The trees that toss, the downs that move, 
Were longer things than I. 



Lo, earth that bows before the wind, 
With wild green children overgrown, 

And all her bosoms, many-whinned, 
Receive me as their own. 



The birds are hushed and fled : the cows 
Have ceased at last to make long moan. 

They only think to browse and browse 
Until the night is grown. 
13 



The wind is stiller than it was, 
And dumbness holds the closing day. 

The earth says not a word, because 
It has no word to say. 



The dear soft grasses under foot 
Are silent to the listening ear. 

Yet beauty never can be mute, 
And some will always hear. 



1 8 September 1913 






VI 

RICHARD JEFFERIES 
(LIDDINGTON CASTLE) 

I SEE the vision of the Vale 
Rise teeming to the rampart Down, 

The fields and, far below, the pale 
Red-roofe"dness of Swindon town. 

But though I see all things remote, 
I cannot see them with the eyes 

With which ere now the man from Coate 
Looked down and wondered and was wise. 

He knew the healing balm of night, 
The strong and sweeping joy of day, 

The sensible and dear delight 
Of life, the pity of decay. 

And many wondrous words he wrote, 
And something good to man he showed, 

About the entering in of Coate, 
There, on the dusty Swindon road. 

19 September 1913 



VII 
J. B. 

THERE'S still a horse on Granham hill, 
And still the Kennet moves, and still 
Four Miler sways and is not still. 
But where is her interpreter? 

The downs are blown into dismay, 
The stunted trees seem all astray, 
Looking for someone clad in grey 
And carrying a golf -club thing; 

Who, them when he had lived among, 
Gave them what they desired, a tongue. 
Their words he gave them to be sung 
Perhaps were few, but they were true. 

The trees, the downs, on either hand, 
Still stand, as he said they would stand. 
But look, the rain in all the land 

Makes all things dim with tears of him. 

And recently the Kennet croons, 
And winds are playing widowed tunes. 
He has not left our "toun o' touns," 
But taken it away with him ! 

October 1913 

16 




VIII 
THE OTHER WISE MAN 



(SCENE : A valley with a wood on one side and a road 
running up to a distant hill: as it might be, the 
valley to the east of West Woods, that runs up to 
Oare Hill, only much larger. TIME: Autumn. 
Four wise men are marching hillward along the 
road.) 

ONE WISE MAN 

I wonder where the valley ends? 
On, comrades, on. 

ANOTHER WISE MAN 

The rain-red road, 
Still shining sinuously, bends 
Leagues upwards. 

A THIRD WISE MAN 

To the hill, O friends, 
To seek the star that once has glowed 
Before us; turning not to right 
Nor left, nor backward once looking. 
Till we have clomb and with the night 
We see the King. 
S.M. 17 2 



ALL THE WISE MEN 

The King! The King! 

THE THIRD WISE MAN 
Long is the road but 

A FOURTH WISE MAN 

Brother, see, 

There, to the left, a very aisle 
Composed of every sort of tree 

THE FIRST WISE MAN 
Still onward 

THE FOURTH WISE MAN 

Oak and beech and birch, 
Like a church, but homelier than church, 
The black trunks for its walls of tile; 
Its roof, old leaves; its floor, beech nuts; 
The squirrels its congregation 

THE SECOND WISE MAN 

Tuts! 
For still we journey 

THE FOURTH WISE MAN 

But the sun weaves 
A water-web across the grass, 
Binding their tops. You must not pass 
The water cobweb. 

18 



THE THIRD WISE MAN 

Hush ! I say. 
Onward and upward till the day 

THE FOURTH WISE MAN 

Brother, that tree has crimson leaves. 

You'll never see its like again. 

Don't miss it. Look, it's bright with rain 

THE FIRST WISE MAN 
O prating tongue. On, on. 

THE FOURTH WISE MAN 

And there 

A toad-stool, nay, a goblin stool. 
No toad sat on a thing so fair. 
Wait, while I pluck and there's and here's 
A whole ring... what?... berries? 

(The Fourth Wise Man drops behind, botanizing ) 

THE WISEST OF THE REMAINING THREE 
WISE MEN 

Ofool! 

Fool, fallen in this vale of tears. 
His hand had touched the plough : his eyes 
Looked back : no more with us, his peers, 
He'll climb the hill and front the skies 
And see the Star, the King, the Prize. 

19 2 2 



But we, the seekers, we who see 
Beyond the mists of transiency 
Our feet down in the valley still 
Are set, our eyes are on the hill. 
Last night the star of God has shone, 
And so we journey, up and on, 
With courage clad, with swiftness shod, 
All thoughts of earth behind us cast, 
Until we see the lights of God, 
And what will be the crown at last? 



ALL THREE WISE MEN 



On, on. 






(They pass on : it is already evening when the Other 
Wise Man limps along the road, still botanizing.) 

THE OTHER WISE MAN 

A vale of tears, they said ! 
A valley made of woes and fears, 
To be passed by with muffled head 
Quickly. I have not seen the tears, 
Unless they take the rain for tears, 
And certainly the place is wet. 
Rain-laden leaves are ever licking 
Your cheeks and hands... I can't get on. 
There's a toad-stool that wants picking. 
There, just there, a little up, . 
What strange things to look upon 
With pink hood and orange cup ! 



20 



And there are acorns, yellow green... 
They said the King was at the end. 
They must have been 
Wrong. For here, here, I intend 
To searcji for him, for surely here 
Are all the wares of the old year, " 
And all the beauty and bright prize, 
And all God's colours meetly showed, 
Green for the grass, blue for the skies, 
Red for the rain upon the road; 
And anything you like for trees, 
But chiefly yellow, brown and gold, 
Because the year is growing old 
And loves to paint her children these. 
I tried to follow... but, what do you think? 
The mushrooms here are pink ! 
And there's old clover with black polls, 
Black-headed clover, black as coals, 
And toad-stools, sleek as ink ! 
And there are such heaps of little turns 
Off the road, wet with old rain: 
Each little vegetable lane 
Of moss and old decaying ferns, 
Beautiful in decay, 

Snatching a beauty from whatever may 
Be their lot, dark-red and luscious : till there pass'd 
Over the many-coloured earth a grey 
Film. It was evening coming down at last. 
And all things hid their faces, covering up 
Their peak or hood or bonnet or bright cup 
21 



In greyness, and the beauty faded fast, 
With all the many-coloured coat of day. 
Then I looked up, and lo ! the sunset sky 
Had taken the beauty from the autumn earth. 
Such colour, O such colour, could not die. 
The trees stood black against such revelry 
Of lemon-gold and purple and crimson dye. 
And even as the trees, so I 
Stood still and worshipped, though by evening's 

birth 

I should have capped the hills and seen the King. 
The King? The King? 

I must be miles away from my journey's end; 
The others must be now nearing 
The summit, glad. By now they wend 
Their way far, far, ahead, no doubt. 
I wonder if they've reached the end. 
If they have, I have not heard them shout. 



i December 1913 



IX 

MARLBOROUGH 



CROUCHED where the open upland billows down 
Into the valley where the river flows, 

She is as any other country town, 

That little lives or marks or hears or knows. 

And she can teach but little. She has not 
The wonder and the surging and the roar 

Of striving cities. Only things forgot 

That once were beautiful, but now no more, 

Has she to give us. Yet to one or two 
She first brought knowledge, and it was for her 

To open first our eyes, until we knew 
How great, immeasurably great, we were. 

I, who have walked along her downs in dreams, 
And known her tenderness, and fait her might, 

And sometimes by her meadows and her streams 
Have drunk deep-storied secrets of delight, 

Have had my moments there, when I have been 
Unwittingly aware of something more, 

Some beautiful aspect, that I had seen 
With mute unspeculative eyes before; 

23 



Have had my times, when, though the earth did wear 
Her self-same trees and grasses, I could see 

The revelation that is always there, 
But somehow is not always clear to me. 



ii 



So, long ago, one halted on his way 
And sent his company and cattle on ; 

His caravans trooped darkling far away 
Into the night, and he was left alone. 



And he was left alone. And, lo, a man 

There wrestled with him till the break of day. 

The brook was silent and the night was wan. 
And when the dawn was come, he passed away. 



The sinew of the hollow of his thigh 

Was shrunken, as he wrestled there alone. 

The brook was silent, but the dawn was nigh. 
The stranger named him Israel and was gone. 



And the sun rose on Jacob; and he knew 
That he was no more Jacob, but had grown 

A more immortal vaster spirit, who 

Had seen God face to face, and still lived on. 
24 



The plain that seemed to stretph away to God, 
The brook that saw and heard and knew no fear, 

Were now the self-same soul as he who stood 
And waited for his brother to draw near. 

For God had wrestled with him, and was gone. 

He looked around, and only God remained. 
The dawn, the desert, he and God were one. 

And Esau came to meet him, travel-stained. 



in 



So, there, when sunset made the downs look new 
And earth gave up her colours to the sky, 

And far away the little city grew 

Half into sight, new-visioned was my eye. 

I, who have lived, and trod her lovely earth, 
Raced with her winds and listened to her birds, 

Have cared but little for their worldly worth 
Nor sought to put my passion into words. 

But now it's different; and I have no rest 
Because my hand must search, dissect and spell 

The beauty that is better not expressed, 
The thing that all can feel, but none can tell. 

i March 1914 

25 



' 



X 

LE REVENANT 

HE trod the oft-remembered lane 
(Now smaller-seeming than before 
When first he left his father's door 

For newer things), but still quite plain 



(Though half -benighted now) upstood 
Old landmarks, ghosts across the lane 
That brought the Bygone back again: 

Shorn haystacks and the rooky wood; 



The guide post, too, which once he clomb 
To read the figures: fourteen miles 
To Swindon, four to Clinton Stiles, 

And only half a mile to home : 



And far away the one homestead, where 
Behind the day now not quite set 
So that he saw in silhouette 

Its chimneys still stand black and bare 
26 



He noticed that the trees were not 
So big as when he journeyed last 
That way. For greatly now he passed 

Striding above the hedges, hot 

With hopings, as he passed by where 
A lamp before him glanced and stayed 
Across his path, so that his shade 

Seemed like a giant's moving there. 

The dullness of the sunken sun 

He marked not, nor how dark it grew, 
Nor that strange flapping bird that flew 

Above: he thought but of the One.... 

He topped the crest and crossed the fence, 
Noticed the garden that it grew 
As erst, noticed the hen-house too 

(The kennel had been altered since). 

It seemed so unchanged and so still. 
(Could it but be the past arisen 
For one short night from out of prison?) 

He reached the big-bowed window-sill, 

Lifted the window sash with care, 
Then, gaily throwing aside the blind, 
Shouted. It was a shock to find 

That he was not remembered there. 
27 



At once he felt not all his pain, 

But murmuringly apologised, 

Turned, once more sought the undersized 
Blown trees, and the long lanky lane, 

Wondering and pondering on, past where 
A lamp before him glanced and stayed 
Across his path, so that his shade 

Seemed like a giant's moving there. 



XI 
LOST 

ACROSS my past imaginings 

Has dropped a blindness silent and slow. 
My eye is bent on other things 

Than those it once did see and know. 



I may not think on those dear lands 

(O far away and long ago !) 
Where the old battered signpost stands 

And silently the four roads go 



East, west, south and north, 
And the cold winter winds do blow. 

And what the evening will bring forth 
Is not for me nor you to know. 



December 1914 



29 



XII 
RAIN 

WHEN the rain is coming down, 
And all Court is still and bare, 
And the leaves fall wrinkled, brown, 
Through the kindly winter air, 
And in tattered flannels I 
' Sweat ' beneath a tearful sky, 
And the sky is dim and grey, 
And the rain is coming down, 
And I wander far away 
From the little red-capped town : 
There is something in the rain 
That would bid me to remain : 
There is something in the wind 
That would whisper, "Leave behind 
All this land of time and rules, 
Land of bells and early schools. 
Latin, Greek and College food 
Do you precious little good. 
Leave them : if you would be free 
Follow, follow, after me ! " 

33 



When I reach 'Four MilerV height, 
And I look abroad again 
On the skies of dirty white 
And the drifting veil of rain, 
And the bunch of scattered hedge 
Dimly swaying on the edge, 
And the endless stretch of downs 
Clad in green and silver gowns; 
There is something in their dress 
Of bleak barren ugliness, 
That would whisper, "You have read 
Of a land of light and glory : 
But believe not what is said. 
Tis a kingdom bleak and hoary, 
Where the winds and tempests call 
And the rain sweeps over all. 
Heed not what the preachers say 
Of a good land far away. 
Here's a better land and kind 
And it is not far to find." 



Therefore, when we rise and sing 
Of a distant land, so fine, 
Where the bells for ever ring, 
And the suns for ever shine : 
Singing loud and singing grand, 
Of a happy far-off land, 
O ! I smile to hear the song, 
For I know that they are wrong, 

34 



That the happy land and gay 
Is not very far away, 
And that I can get there soon 
Any rainy afternoon. 

And when summer comes again, 
And the downs are dimpling green, 
And the air is free from rain, 
And the clouds no longer seen : 
Then I know that they have gone 
To find a new camp further on, 
Where there is no shining sun 
To throw light on what is done, 
Where the summer can't intrude 
On the fort where winter stood: 
Only blown and drenching grasses, 
Only rain that never passes, 
Moving mists and sweeping wind, 
And I follow them behind ! 



October 1912 



35 



XIII 
A TALE OF TWO CAREERS 

I SUCCESS 

HE does not dress as other men, 
His 'kish' is loud and gay, 

His ' side ' is as the ' side ' of ten 
Because his ' barnes ' are grey. 

His head has swollen to a size 
Beyond the proper size for heads, 

He metaphorically buys 
The ground on which he treads. 

Before his face of haughty grace 
The ordinary mortal cowers : 

A ' forty-cap ' has put the chap 
Into another world from ours. 

The funny little world that lies 
Twixt High Street and the Mound 

Is just a swarm of buzzing flies 
That aimlessly go round: 
36 



If one is stronger in the limb 
Or better able to work hard, 

It's quite amusing to watch him 
Ascending heavenward. 

But if one cannot work or play 

(Who loves the better part too well), 

It's really sad to see the lad 
Retained compulsorily in hell. 



II FAILURE 

We are the wasters, who have no 

Hope in this world here, neither fame, 

Because we cannot collar low 
Nor write a strange dead tongue the same 

As strange dead men did long ago. 

We are the weary, who begin 
The race with joy, but early fail, 

Because we do not care to win 
A race that goes not to the frail 

And humble : only the proud come in. 

We are the shadow-forms, who pass 
Unheeded hence from work and play. 

We are to-day, but like the grass 
That to-day is, we pass away; 

And no one stops to say ' Alas ! ' 

37 



Though we have little, all we have 
We give our School. And no return 

We can expect for what we gave ; 
No joys; only a summons stern, 

"Depart, for others entrance crave!" 

As soon as she can clearly prove 
That from us is no hope of gain, 

Because we only bring her love 
And cannot bring her strength or brain, 

She tells us, "Go: it is enough." 

She turns us out at seventeen, 
We may not know her any more, 

And all our life with her has been 
A life of seeing others score, 

While we sink lower and are mean. 

We have seen others reap success 
Full-measure. None has come to us. 

Our life has been one failure. Yes, 
But does not God prefer it thus? 

God does not also praise success. 

And for each failure that we meet, 
And for each place we drop behind, 

Each toil that holds our aching feet, 
Each star we seek and never find, 

God, knowing, gives us comfort meet. 
38 









The School we care for has not cared 
To cherish nor keep our names to be 

Memorials. God hath prepared 
Some better thing for us, for we 

His hopes have known, His failures shared. 

November 1912 



XIV 
WHAT YOU WILL 

COME and see, it's such a sight, 
So many boys all doing right : 

To see them underneath the yoke, 
Blindfolded by the elder folk, 
Move at a most impressive rate 
Along the way that is called straight. 
O, it is comforting to know 
They're in the way they ought to go. 
But don't you think it's far more gay 
To see them slowly leave the way 
And limp and loose themselves and fall? 
O, that's the nicest thing of all. 

1 love to see this sight, for then 
I know they are becoming men, 
And they are tiring of the shrine 
Where things are really not divine. 

I do not know if it seems brave 
The youthful spirit to enslave, 
And hedge about, lest it should grow. 
I don't know if it's better so 
In the long end. I only know 
40 



That when I have a son of mine, 
He shan't be made to droop and pine, 
Bound down and forced by rule and rod 
To serve a God who is no God. 
But I'll put custom on the shelf 
And make him find his God himself. 
Perhaps he'll find him in a tree, 
Some hollow trunk, where you can see. 
Perhaps the daisies in the sod 
Will open out and show him God. 
Or will he meet him in the roar 
Of breakers as they beat the shore? 
Or in the spiky stars that shine? 
Or in the rain (where I found mine) ? 
Or in the city's giant moan? 
A God who will be all his own, 
To whom he can address a prayer 
And love him, for he is so fair, 
And see with eyes that are not dim 
And build a temple meet for him. 

30 June 1913 



OF LIFE AND THOUGHT 



XV 



A CALL TO ACTION 



A THOUSAND years have passed away, 
Cast back your glances on the scene, 

Compare this England of to-day 
With England as she once has been. 

Fast beat the pulse of li ving then : 
The hum of movement, throb of war, 

The rushing mighty sound of men 
Reverberated loud and far. 

They girt their loins up and they trod 
The path of danger, rough and high; 

For Action, Action was their god, 
"Be up and doing" was their cry. 



A thousand years have passed away ; 

The sands of life are running low ; 
The world is sleeping out her day ; 

The day is dying be it so. 
\5 



A thousand years have passed amain ; 

The sands of life are running thin ; 
Thought is our leader Thought is vain ; 

Speech is our goddess Speech is sin. 



ii 



It needs no thought to understand, 
No speech to tell, nor sight to see 

That there has come upon our land 
The curse of Inactivity. 



We do not see the vital point 

That 'tis the eighth, most deadly, sin 
To wail, "The world is out of joint" 

And not attempt to put it in. 



We see the swollen stream of crime 
Flow hourly past us, thick and wide ; 

We gaze with interest for a time, 
And pass by on the other side. 



We see the tide of human sin 
Rush roaring past our very door, 

And scarcely one man plunges in 
To drag the drowning to the shore. 
46 



We, dull and dreamy, stand and blink, 
Forgetting glory, strength and pride, 

Half listless watchers on the brink, 
Half ruined victims of the tide. 



in 



We question, answer, make defence, 
We sneer, we scoff, we criticize, 

We wail and moan our decadence, 
Enquire, investigate, surmise; 



We preach and prattle, peer and pry 
And fit together two and two : 

We ponder, argue, shout, swear, lie- 
We will not, for we cannot, DO. 



Pale puny soldiers of the pen, 
Absorbed in this your inky strife, 

Act as of old, when men were men, 
England herself and life yet life. 

October 1912 



47 



XVI 
PEACE 

THERE is silence in the evening when the long days 

cease, 
And a million men are praying for an ultimate 

release 
From strife and sweat and sorrow they are praying 

for peace. 

But God is marching on. 



Peace for a people that is striving to be free ! 
Peace for the children of -the wild wet sea! 
Peace for the seekers of the promised land do we 
Want peace when God has none? 



We pray for rest and beauty that we know we 

cannot earn, 

And ever are we asking for a honey-sweet return ; 
But God will make it bitter, make it bitter, till we 
learn 

That with tears the race is run. 
48 



And did not Jesus perish to bring to men, not peace, 
But a sword, a sword for battle and a sword that 

should not cease? 
Two thousand years have passed us. Do we still 

want peace 

Where the sword of Christ has shone? 



Yes, Christ perished to present us with a sword, 
That strife should be our portion and more strife 

our reward, 

For toil and tribulation and the glory of the Lord 
And the sword of Christ are one. 



If you want to know the beauty of the thing called 

rest, 

Go, get it from the poets, who will tell you it is best 
(And their words are sweet as honey) to lie flat upon 

your chest 

And sleep till life is gone. 



I know that there is beauty where the low streams 

run, 
And the weeping of the willows and the big sunk 

sun, 

But I know my work is doing and it never shall be 
done, 

Though I march for ages on. 
S.M. 49 4 



Wild is the tumult of the long grey street, 
O, is it never silent from the tramping of their feet? 
Here, Jesus, is Thy triumph, and here the world's 
defeat, 

For from here all peace has gone. 

There's a stranger thing than beauty in the ceaseless 

city's breast, 
In the throbbing of its fever and the wind is in the 

west, 
And the rain is driving forward where there is no 

rest, 

For the Lord is marching on. 

December 1912 



XVII 
THE RIVER 

HE watched the river running black 
Beneath the blacker sky ; 

It did not pause upon its track 
Of silent instancy ; 

It did not hasten, nor was slack, 
But still went gliding by. 



It was so black. There was no wind 

Its patience to defy. 
It was not that the man had sinned, 

Or that he wished to die. 
Only the wide and silent tide 

Went slowly sweeping by. 



The mass of blackness moving down 
Filled full of dreams the eye ; 

The lights of all the lighted town 
Upon its breast did lie ; 

The tall black trees were upside down 
In the river phantasy. 

51 42 



He had an envy for its black 

Inscrutability ; 
He felt impatiently the lack 

Of that great law whereby 
The river never travels back 

But still goes gliding by ; 

But still goes gliding by, nor clings 
To passing things that die, 

Nor shows the secrets that it brings 
From its strange source on high. 

And he felt "We are two living things 
And the weaker one is I." 



He saw the town, that living stack 
Piled up against the sky. 

He saw the river running black 
On, on and on : O, why 

Could he not move along his track 
With such consistency ? 

He had a yearning for the strength 

That comes of unity: 
The union of one soul at length 

With its twin-soul to lie: 
To be a part of one great strength 

That moves and cannot die. 
****** 

52 



He watched the river running black 
Beneath the blacker sky. 

He pulled his coat about his back, 
He did not strive nor cry. 

He put his foot upon the track 
That still went gliding by. 



The thing that never travels back 

Received him silently. 
And there was left no shred, no wrack 

To show the reason why : 
Only the river running black 

Beneath the blacker sky. 

February 1913 



53 



XVIII 
THE SEEKERS 

THE gates are open on the road 
That leads to beauty and to God. 

Perhaps the gates are not so fair, 
Nor quite so bright as once they were, 
When God Himself on earth did stand 
And gave to Abraham His hand 
And led him to a better land. 

For lo ! the unclean walk therein, 

And those that have been soiled with sin. 

The publican and harlot pass 

Along : they do not stain its grass. 

In it the needy has his share, 

In it the foolish do not err. 

Yes, spurned and fool and sinner stray 

Along the highway and the way. 

And what if all its ways are trod 
By those whom sin brings near to God? 
This journey soon will make them clean: 
Their faith is greater than their sin. 
54 



For still they travel slowly by 
Beneath the promise of the sky, 
Scorned and rejected utterly; 
Unhonoured; things of little worth 
Upon the highroads of this earth; 
Afflicted, destitute and weak : 
Nor find the beauty that they seek, 
The God they set their trust upon : 
Yet still they march rejoicing on. 

March 1913 



55 



XIX 
ROOKS 

THERE, where the rusty iron lies, 
The rooks are cawing all the day. 

Perhaps no man, until he dies, 
Will understand them, what they say. 



The evening makes the sky like clay. 

The slow wind waits for night to rise. 
The world is half-content. But they 



Still trouble all the trees with cries, 
That know, and cannot put away, 

The yearning to the soul that flies 
From day to night, from night to day. 

21 June 1913 



XX 

ROOKS (II) 

THERE is such cry in all these birds, 
More than can ever be express'd; 

If I should put it into words, 
You would agree it were not best 
To wake such wonder from its rest. 

But since to-night the world is still 
And only they and I astir, 

We are united, will to will, 
By bondage tighter, tenderer 
Than any lovers ever were. , 

And if, of too much labouring, 
All that I see around should die 

(There is such sleep in each green thing, 
Such weariness in all the sky), 
We would live on, these birds and I. 

Yet how? since everything must pass 
At evening with the sinking sun, 

And Christ is gone, and Barabbas, 
Judas and Jesus, gone, clean gone, 
Then how shall I live on? 

57 



Yet surely Judas must have heard 
Amidst his torments the long cry 

Of some lone Israelitish bird, 
And on it, ere he went to die, 
Thrown all his spirit's agony. 

And that immortal cry which welled 
For Judas, ever afterwards 

Passion on passion still has swelled 
And sweetened, till to-night these birds 
Will take my words, will take my words, 


And wrapping them in music meet 
Will sing their spirit through the sky, 

Strange and unsatisfied and sweet 
That, when stock-dead am I, am I, 
O, these will never die ! 



July 1913 



XXI 

THE SONG OF THE UNGIRT 
RUNNERS 

WE swing ungirded hips, 
And lightened are our eyes, 
The rain is on our lips, 
We do not run for prize. 
We know not whom we trust 
Nor whitherward we fare, 
But we run because we must 
Through the great wide air. 

The waters of the seas 
Are troubled as by storm. 
The tempest strips the trees 
And does not leave them warm. 
Does the tearing tempest pause? 
Do the tree-tops ask it why? 
So we run without a cause 
'Neath the big bare sky. 

The rain is on our lips, 
We do not run for prize. 
But the storm the water whips 
And the wave howls to the skies. 
The winds arise and strike it 
And scatter it like sand, 
And we run because we like it 
Through the broad bright land. 
59 



XXII 
GERMAN RAIN 

THE heat came down and sapped away my powers. 
The laden heat came down and drowned my brain, 
Till through the weight of overcoming hours 
I felt the rain. 



Then suddenly I saw what more to see 
I never thought : old things renewed, retrieved. 
The rain that fell in England fell on me, 
And I believed. 



60 



XXIII 
BRAND 

THOU trod'st the shifting sand path where man's 

race is. 

The print of thy soft sandals is still clear. 
I too have trodden it those prints a-near, 
But the sea washes out my tired foot-traces. 
And all that thou hast healed and holpen here 
I yearned to heal and help and wipe the tear 
Away. But still I trod unpeopled spaces. 
I had no twelve to follow my pure paces. 
For I had thy misgivings and thy fear, 
Thy crown of scorn, thy suffering's sharp spear, 
Thy hopes, thy longings only not thy dear 
Love (for my crying love would no man hear), 
Thy will to love, but not thy love's sweet graces, 
That deep firm foothold which no sea erases. 
I think that thou wast I in bygone places 
In an intense eliminated year. 
Now born again in days that are more drear 
I wander unfulfilled : and see strange faces. 



61 



XXIV 
PEER GYNT 

WHEN he was young and beautiful and bold 
We hated him, for he was very strong. 
But when he came back home again, quite old, 
And wounded too, we could not hate him long. 

For kingliness and conquest pranced he forth * 
Like some high-stepping charger bright with foam. 
And south he strode and east and west and north 
With need of crowns and never need of home. 

Enraged we heard high tidings of his strength 
And cursed his long forgetfulness. We swore 
That should he come back home some eve at length, 
We would deny him, we would bar the door ! 

And then he came. The sound of those tired feet ! 
And all our home and all our hearts are his, 
Where bitterness, grown weary, turns to sweet, 
And envy, purged by longing, pity is. 

And pillows rest beneath the withering cheek, 
And hands are laid the battered brows above, 
And he whom we had hated, waxen weak, 
First in his weakness learns a little love. 
62 



XXV 

' 

TO POETS 

WE are the homeless, even as you, 

Who hope and never can begin. 

Our hearts are wounded through and through 

Like yours, but our hearts bleed within. 

We too make music, but our tones 

'Scape not the barrier of our bones. 



We have no comeliness like you. 
We toil, unlovely, and we spin. 
We start, return: we wind, undo: 
We hope, we err, we strive, we sin, 
We love : your love's not greater, but 
The lips of our love's might stay shut. 



We have the evil spirits too 

That shake our soul with battle-din. 

But we have an eviller spirit than you, 

We have a dumb spirit within : 

The exceeding bitter agony 

But not the exceeding bitter cry. 

September 1914 

63 



XXVI 

IF I have suffered pain 
It is because I would. 
I willed it. Tis no good 
To murmur or complain. 
I have not served the law 
That keeps the earth so fair 
And gives her clothes to wear, 
Raiment of joy and awe. 

For all, that bow to bless 
That law, shall sure abide. 
But man shall not abide, 
And hence his gloriousness. 
Lo, evening earth doth lie 
All-beauteous and all peace. 
Man only does not cease 
From striving and from cry. 

Sun sets in peace: and soon 
The moon will shower her peace. 
O law-abiding moon, 
You hold your peace in fee ! 
Man, leastways, will not be 
Down-bounden to these laws. 
Man's spirit sees no cause 
To serve such laws as these. 
64 



There yet are many seas 
For man to wander in. 
He yet must find out sin, 
If aught of pleasance there 
Remain for him to store, 
His rovings to increase, 
In quest of many a shore 
Forbidden still to fare. 



Peace sleeps the earth upon, 
And sweet peace on the hill. 
The waves that whimper still 
At their long law-serving 
(O flowing sad complaint !) 
Come on and are back drawn. 
Man only owns no king, 
Man only is not faint. 

You see, the earth is bound. 

You see, the man is free. 

For glorious liberty 

He suffers and would die. 

Grudge not then suffering 

Or chastisemental cry. 

O let his pain abound, 

Earth's truant and earth's king ! 



S.M. 65 



XXVII 

WHOM THEREFORE WE IGNORANTLY 
WORSHIP 

THESE things are silent. Though it may be told 
Of luminous deeds that lighten land and sea, 
Strong sounding actions with broad minstrelsy 
Of praise, strange hazards and adventures bold, 
We hold to the old things that grow not old : 
Blind, patient, hungry, hopeless (without fee 
Of all our hunger and unhope are we), 
To the first ultimate instinct, to God we hold. 

They flicker, glitter, flicker. But we bide, 
We, the blind weavers of an intense fate, 
Asking but this that we may be denied : 
Desiring only desire insatiate, 
Unheard, unnamed, unnoticed, crucified 
To our unutterable faith, we wait. 

September 1914 



66 



XXVIII 
DEUS LOQUITUR 

THAT'S what I am: a thing of no desire, 

With no path to discover and no plea 

To offer up, so be my altar fire 

May burn before the hearth continuously, 

To be 

For wayward men a steadfast light to see. 



They know me in the morning of their days, 

But ere noontide forsake me, to discern 

New lore and hear new riddles. But moonrays 

Bring them back footsore, humble, bent, a-burn 

To turn 

And warm them by my fire which they did spurn. 



They flock together like tired birds. "We sought 

Full many stars in many skies to see, 

But ever knowledge disappointment brought. 

Thy light alone, Lord, burneth steadfastly." 

Ah me! 

Then it is I who fain would wayward be. 



67 



52 



XXIX 
EXPECTANS EXPECTAVI 

FROM morn to midnight, all day through, 
I laugh and play as others do, 
I sin and chatter, just the same 
As others with a different name. 

And all year long upon the stage 
I dance and tumble and do rage 
So vehemently, I scarcely see 
The inner and eternal me. 

I have a temple I do not 
Visit, a heart I have forgot, 
A self that I have never met, 
A secret shrine and yet, and yet 

'This sanctuary of my soul 
Unwitting I keep white and whole, 
Unlatched and lit, if Thou should'st care 
To enter or to tarry there. 

With parted lips and outstretched hands 
And listening ears Thy servant stands, 
Call Thou early, call Thou late, 
To Thy great service dedicate. 

May 1915 

68 



OF WAR AND DEATH 



XXX 

ALL the hills and vales along 
Earth is bursting into song, 
And the singers are the chaps 
Who are going to die perhaps. 

O sing, marching men, 

Till the valleys ring again. 

Give your gladness to earth's keeping, 

So be glad, when you are sleeping. 

Cast away regret and rue, 

Think what you are marching to. 

Little live, great pass. 

Jesus Christ and Barabbas 

Were found the same day. 

This died, that went his way. 
So sing with joyful breath, 
For why, you are going to death. 
Teeming earth will surely store 
All the gladness that you pour. 

7 1 



Earth that never doubts nor fears, 
Earth that knows of death, not tears, 
Earth that bore with joyful ease 
Hemlock for Socrates, 
Earth that blossomed and was glad 
'Neath the cross that Christ had, 
Shall rejoice and blossom too 
When the bullet reaches you. 

Wherefore, men marching 

On the road to death, sing ! 

Pour your gladness on earth's head, 

So be merry, so be dead. 

From the hills and valleys earth 
Shouts back the sound of mirth, 
Tramp of feet and lilt of song 
Ringing all the road along. 
All the music of their going, 
Ringing swinging glad song-throwing, 
Earth will echo still, when foot 
Lies numb and voice mute. 

On, marching men, on 

To the gates of death with song. 

Sow your gladness for earth's reaping, 

So you may be glad, though sleeping. 

Strew your gladness on earth's bed, 

So be merry, so be dead. 



72 



XXXI 

TO GERMANY 

You are blind like us. Your hurt no man designed, 
And no man claimed the conquest of your land. 
But gropers both through fields of thought confined 
We stumble and we do not understand. 
You only saw your future bigly planned, 
And we, the tapering paths of our own mind, 
And in each other's dearest ways we stand, 
And hiss and hate. And the blind fight the blind. 



When it is peace, then we may view again 
With new-won eyes each other's truer form 
And wonder. Grown more loving-kind and warm 
We'll grasp firm hands and laugh at the old pain, 
When it is peace. But until peace, the storm 
The darkness and the thunder and the rain. 



73 



XXXII 

* 

A HUNDRED thousand million mites we go 
Wheeling and tacking o'er the eternal plain, 
Some black with death and some are white with 

woe. 
Who sent us forth? Who takes us home again? 



And there is sound of hymns of praise to whom? 
And curses on whom curses? snap the air. 
And there is hope goes hand in hand with gloom, 
And blood and indignation and despair. 



And there is murmuring of the multitude 
And blindness and great blindness, until some 
Step forth and challenge blind Vicissitude 
Who tramples on them : so that fewer come. 



And nations, ankle-deep in love or hate, 
Throw darts or kisses all the unwitting hour 
Beside the ominous unseen tide of fate; 
And there is emptiness and drink and power. 
74 



And some are mounted on swift steeds of thought 
And some drag sluggish feet of stable toil. 
Yet all, as though they furiously sought, 
Twist turn and tussle, close and cling and coil. 



A hundred thousand million mites we sway 

Writhing and tossing on the eternal plain, 

Some black with death but most are bright with 

Day! 
Who sent us forth? Who brings us home again? 

September 1914 






7.5 



XXXIII 
TWO SONNETS 



SAINTS have adored the lofty soul of you. 
Poets have whitened at your high renown. 
We stand among the many millions who 
Do hourly wait to pass your pathway down. 
You, so familiar, once were strange : we tried 
To live as of your presence unaware. 
But now in every road on every side 
We see your straight and steadfast signpost there. 

I think it like that signpost in my land, 
Hoary and tall, which pointed me to go 
Upward, into the hills, on the right hand, 
Where the mists swim and the winds shriek and 

blow, 

A homeless land and friendless, but a land 
I did not know and that I wished to know. 
76 




II 

Such, such is Death: no triumph: no defeat: 
Only an empty pail, a slate rubbed clean, 
A merciful putting away of what has been. 

And this we know : Death is not Life effete, 

Life crushed, the broken pail. We who have seen 

So marvellous things know well the end not yet. 

Victor and vanquished are a-one in death : 
Coward and brave: friend, foe. Ghosts do not say 
"Come, what was your record when you drew 

breath? " 

But a big blot has hid each yesterday 
So poor, so manifestly incomplete. 
And your bright Promise, withered long and sped, 
Is touched, stirs, rises, opens and grows sweet 
And blossoms and is you, when you are dead. 

12 June 1915 



77 



XXXIV 

WHEN you see millions of the mouthless dead 
Across your dreams in pale battalions go, 
Say not soft things as other men have said, 
That you'll remember. For you need not so. 
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they 

know 

It is not curses heaped on each gashed head? 
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow. 
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead. 
Say only this, " They are dead." Then add thereto, 
"Yet many a better one has died before." 
Then, scanning all the o'ercrowded mass, should you 
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore, 
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew. 
Great death has made all his for evermore. 






XXXV 

THERE is such change in all those fields, 
Such motion rhythmic, ordered, free, 
Where ever-glancing summer yields 
Birth, fragrance, sunlight, immanency, 
To make us view our rights of birth. 
What shall we do? How shall we die? 
We, captives of a roaming earth, 
'Mid shades that life and light deny. 
Blank summer's surfeit heaves in mist ; 
Dumb earth basks dewy-washed; while still 
We whom Intelligence has kissed 
Do make us shackles of our will. 
And yet I know in each loud brain, 
Round-clamped with laws and learning so, 
Is madness more and lust of strain 
Than earth's jerked godlings e'er can know. 
The false Delilah of our brain 
Has set us round the millstone going. 
O lust of roving ! lust of pain ! 
Our hair will not be long in growing. 
Like blinded Samson round we go. 
We hear the grindstone groan and cry. 
Yet we are kings, we know, we know. , 
What shall we do? How shall we die? 
79 



Take but our pauper's gift of birth, 

O let us from the grindstone free ! 

And tread the maddening gladdening earth 

In strength close-braced with purity. 

The earth is old; we ever new. 

Our eyes should see no other sense 

Than this, eternally to DO 

Our joy, our task, our recompense; 

Up unexplored mountains move, 

Track tireless through great wastes afar, 

Nor slumber in the arms of love, 

Nor tremble on the brink of war; 

Make Beauty and make Rest give place, 

Mock Prudence loud and she is gone, 

Smite Satisfaction on the face 

And tread the ghost of Ease upon. 

Light-lipped and singing press we hard 

Over old earth which now is worn, 

Triumphant, buffeted and scarred, 

By billows howled at, tempest-torn, 

Toward blue horizons far away 

(Which do not give the rest we need, 

But some long strife, more than this play, 

Some task that will be stern indeed) 

We ever new, we ever young, 

We happy creatures of a day ! 

What will the gods say, seeing us strung 

As nobly and as taut as they? 



80 



XXXVI 

I HAVE not brought my Odyssey 
With me here across the sea; 
But you'll remember, when I say 
How, when they went down Sparta way, 
To sandy Sparta, long ere dawn 
Horses were harnessed, rations drawn, 
Equipment polished sparkling bright, 
And breakfasts swallowed (as the white 
Of Eastern heavens turned to gold) 
The dogs barked, swift farewells were told. 
The sun springs up, the horses neigh, 
Crackles the whip thrice then away ! 
From sun-go-up to sun-go-down 
All day across the sandy down 
The gallant horses galloped, till 
The wind across the downs more chill 
Blew, the sun sank and all the road 
Was darkened, that it only showed 
Right at the end the town's red light 
And twilight glimmering into night. 

The horses never slackened till 
They reached the doorway and stood still. 
Then came the knock, the unlading; then 
The honey-sweet converse of men, 
S.M. 81 6 



The splendid bath, the change of dress, 
Then O the grandeur of their Mess, 
The henchmen, the prim stewardess ! 
And O the breaking of old ground, 
The tales, after the port went round ! 
(The wondrous wiles of old Odysseus, 
Old Agamemnon and his misuse 
Of his command, and that young chit 
Paris who didn't care a bit 
For Helen only to annoy her 
He did it really, K.T.\.) 

But soon they led amidst the din 

The honey-sweet aotSo? in, 

Whose eyes were blind, whose soul had sight, 

Who knew the fame of men in fight 

Bard of white hair and trembling foot, 

Who sang whatever God might put 

Into his heart. 

And there he sung, 
Those war-worn veterans among, 
Tales of great war and strong hearts wrung, 
Of clash of arms, of council's brawl, 
Of beauty that must early fall, 
Of battle hate and battle joy 
By the old windy walls of Troy. 
They felt that they were unreal then, 
Visions and shadow-forms, not men. 
But those the Bard did sing and say 
(Some were their comrades, some were they) 
82 



Took shape and loomed and strengthened more 
Greatly than they had guessed of yore. 

And now the fight begins again, 
The old war- joy, the old war-pain. 
Sons of one school across the sea 
We have no fear to fight 

****** 
And soon, O soon, I do not doubt it, 
With the body or without it, 
We shall all come tumbling down 
To our old wrinkled red-capped town. 
Perhaps the road up Ilsley way, 
The old ridge-track, will be my way. 
High up among the sheep and sky, 
Look down on Wantage, passing by, 
And see the smoke from Swindon town ; 
And then full left at Liddington, 
Where the four winds of heaven meet 
The earth-blest traveller to, greet. 
And then my face is toward the south, 
There is a singing on my mouth : 
Away to rightward I descry 
My Barbury ensconced in sky, 
Far underneath the Ogbourne twins, 
And at my feet the thyme and whins, 
The grasses with their little crowns 
Of gold, the lovely Aldbourne downs, 
And that old signpost (well I knew 
That crazy signpost, arms askew, 

83 62 



Old mother of the four grass ways). 
And then my mouth is dumb with praise, 
For, past the wood and chalkpit tiny, 
A glimpse of Marlborough epareivij ! 
So I descend beneath the rail 
To warmth and welcome and wassail. 
* * * * * * 

This from the battered trenches rough, 

Jingling and tedious enough. 

And so I sign myself to you : 

One, who some crooked pathways knew 

Round Bedwyn : who could scarcely leave 

The Downs on a December eve : 

Was at his happiest in shorts, 

And got not many good reports ! 

Small skill of rhyming in his hand 

But you'll forgive you'll understand. 

12 July 1915 



84 



XXXVII 
IN MEMORIAM 

S.C.W., V.C. 

THERE is no fitter end than this. 

No need is now to yearn nor sigh. 
We know the glory that is his, 

A glory that can never die. 

Surely we knew it long before, 
Knew all along that he was made 

For a swift radiant morning, for 
A sacrificing swift night-shade. 

8 September 1915 




XXXVIII 
BEHIND THE LINES 

WE are now at the end of a few days' rest, a kilo- 
metre behind the lines. Except for the farmyard 
noises (new style) it might almost be the little 
village that first took us to its arms six weeks ago. 
It has been a fine day, following on a day's rain, 
so that the earth smells like spring. I have just 
managed to break off a long conversation with 
the farmer in charge, a tall thin stooping man with 
sad eyes, in trouble about his land: les Anglais 
stole his peas, trod down his corn and robbed his 
young potatoes: he told it as a father telling of 
infanticide. There may have been fifteen francs' 
worth of damage done; he will never get compensa- 
tion out of those shifty Belgian burgomasters; but 
it was not exactly the fifteen francs but the invasion 
of the soil that had been his for forty years, in 
which the weather was his only enemy, that gave 
him a kind of Niobe's dignity to his complaint. 

Meanwhile there is the usual evening sluggish- 
ness. Close by, a quickfirer is pounding away its 
allowance of a dozen shells a day. It is like a cow 
coughing. Eastward there begins a sound (all 
86 



sounds begin at sundown and continue inter- 
mittently till midnight, reaching their zenith at 
about 9 p.m. and then dying away as sleepiness 
claims their masters) a sound like a motor-cycle 
race thousands of motor-cycles tearing round and 
round a track, with cut-outs out : it is really a pair 
of machine guns firing. And now one sound awakens 
another. The old cow coughing has started the 
motor-bykes : and now at intervals of a few minutes 
come express trains in our direction : you can hear 
them rushing toward us; they pass going straight 
for the town behind us: and you hear them begin 
to slow down as they reach the town: they will 
soon stop: but no, every time, just before they 
reach it, is a tremendous railway accident. At least, 
it must be a railway accident, there is so much 
noise, and you can see the dust that the wreckage 
scatters. Sometimes the train behind comes very 
close, but it too smashes on the wreckage of its 
forerunners. A tremendous cloud of dust, and then 
the groans. So many trains and accidents start the 
cow coughing again: only another cow this time, 
somewhere behind us, a tremendous-sized cow, 
Oavfjida-iov ovov, with awful whooping-cough. It 
must be a buffalo: this cough must burst its 
sides. And now someone starts sliding down the 
stairs on a tin tray, to soften the heart of the cow, 
make it laugh and cure its cough. The din he makes 
is appalling. He is beating the tray with a broom 
now, every two minutes a stroke: he has certainly 

8? 



stopped the cow by this time, probably killed it. 
He will leave off soon (thanks to the "shell 
tragedy"): we know he can't last. 

It is now almost dark: come out and see the 
fireworks. While waiting for them to begin you 
can notice how pale and white the corn is in the 
summer twilight : no wonder with all this whooping- 
cough about. And the motor-cycles: notice how 
all these races have at least a hundred entries: 
there is never a single cycle going. And why are 
there no birds coming back to roost? Where is the 
lark? I haven't heard him all to-day. He must have 
got whooping-cough as well, or be staying at home 
through fear of the cow. I think it will rain to- 
morrow, but there have been no swallows circling 
low, stroking their breasts on the full ears of corn. 
Anyhow, it is night now, but the circus does not 
close till twelve. Look ! there is the first of them ! 
The fireworks are beginning. Red flares shooting 
up high into the night, or skimming low over the 
ground, like the swallows that are not : and rockets 
bursting into stars. See how they illumine that 
patch of ground a mile in front. See*it, it is deadly 
pale in their searching light: ghastly, I think, and 
featureless except for two big lines of eyebrows 
ashy white, parallel along it, raised a little from 
its surface. Eyebrows. Where are the eyes? Hush, 
there are no eyes. What those shooting flares 
illumine is a mole. A long thin mole. Burrowing 
by day, and shoving a timorous enquiring snout 



above the ground by night. Look, did you see it? 
No, you cannot see it from here. But were you a 
good deal nearer, you would see behind that snout 
a long and endless row of sharp shining teeth. 
The rockets catch the light from these teeth and 
the teeth glitter: they are silently removed from 
the poison-spitting gums of the mole. For the 
mole's gums spit fire and, they say, send something 
more concrete than fire darting into the night. 
Even when its teeth are off. But you cannot see 
all this from here: you can only see the rockets 
and then for a moment the pale ground beneath. 
But it is quite dark now. 

And now for the fun of the fair ! You will hear 
soon the riding-master crack his whip why, there 
it is. Listen, a thousand whips are cracking, whip- 
ping the horses round the ring. At last ! The fun 
of the circus is begun. For the motor-cycle team 
race has started off again: and the whips are 
cracking all : and the waresman starts again, beating 
his loud tin tray to attract the customers: and the 
cows in the cattle-show start coughing, coughing: 
and the firework display is at its best: and the 
circus specials come one after another bearing the 
merry-makers back to town, all to the inevitable 
crash, the inevitable accident. It can't last long: 
these accidents are so frequent, they'll all get soon 
killed off, I hope. Yes, it is diminishing. The train 
service is cancelled (and time too) : the cows have 
stopped coughing : and the cycle race is done. Only 
89 



the kids who have bought new whips at the fair 
continue to crack them: and unused rockets that 
lie about the ground are still sent up occasionally. 
But now the children are being driven off to bed: 
only an occasional whip-crack now (perhaps the 
child is now the sufferer) : and the tired showmen 
going over the ground pick up the rocket-sticks 
and dead flares. At least I suppose this is what 
must be happening: for occasionally they still find 
one that has not gone off and send it up out of 
mere perversity. Else what silence ! 

It must be midnight now. Yes, it is midnight. 
But before you go to bed, bend down, put your 
ear against the ground. What do you hear? "I hear 
an endless tapping and a tramping to and fro : both 
are muffled: but they come from everywhere. Tap, 
tap, tap: pick, pick, pick: tra-mp, tra-mp, tra-mp." 
So you see the circus-goers are not all gone to sleep. 
There is noise coming from the womb of earth, 
noise of men who tap and mine and dig and pass 
to and fro on their watch. What you have seen is 
the foam and froth of war: but underground is 
labour and throbbing and long watch. Which will 
one day bear their fruit. They will set the circus 
on fire. Then what pandemonium ! Let us hope it 
will not be to-morrow ! 

15 July 1915 



90 



ILLUSTRATIONS IN PROSE 



I 

RICHARD JEFFERIES (p. 15) 

I AM sweatily struggling to the end of Faust II, 
where Goethe's just showing off his knowledge. 
I am also reading a very interesting book on Goethe 
and Schiller ; very adoring it is, but it lets out quite 
unconsciously the terrible dryness of their entirely 
intellectual friendship and (Goethe's at least) en- 
tirely intellectual life. If Goethe really died saying 
"more light," it was very silly of him: what he 
wanted was more warmth. G. and S. apparently 
made friends, on their own confession, merely be- 
cause their ideas and artistic ideals were the same, 
which fact ought to be the very first to make them 
bore one another. 

All this is leading to the following conclusion. 
The Germans can act Shakespeare, have good beer 
and poetry, but their prose is cobwebby stuff. 
Hence I want to read some good prose again. Also 
it is summer. And for a year or two I had always 
laid up "The Pageant of Summer" as a treat for a 
hot July. In spite of all former vows of celibacy 
in the way of English, now's the time. So, unless 
the cost of book-postage here is ruinous, could you 
send me a small volume of Essays by Richard 
Jefferies called The Life of the Fields, the first essay 
in the series being the Pageant of Summer? No 
93 



particular hurry, but I should be amazingly grateful 
if you'll send it (it's quite a little book), especially 
as I presume the pageant of summer takes place in 
that part of the country where I should be now had 

had a stronger will than you. In the midst of 

my setting up and smashing of deities Masefield, 
Hardy, Goethe I always fall back on Richard 
Jefferies wandering about in the background. 
I have at least the tie of locality with him. (July 
1914) 

I've given up German prose altogether. It's like 
a stale cake compounded of foreign elements. So 
I have laid in a huge store of Richard Jefferies for 
the rest of July, and read him none the less vora- 
ciously because we are countrymen. (I know it's 

wrong of me, but I count myself as Wiltshire ) 

When I die (in sixty years) I am going to leave all 
my presumably enormous fortune to Maryborough 
on condition that a thorough knowledge of Richard 
Jefferies is ensured by the teaching there. I think 
it is only right considering we are bred upon the 
self-same hill. It would also encourage Naturalists 
and discourage cricketers. . . . 

But, in any case, I'm not reading so much 
German as I did ought to. I dabble in their 
modern poetry, which is mostly of the morbidly 
religious kind. The language is massively beautiful, 
the thought is rich and sleek, the air that of the 
inside of a church. Magnificent artists they are, 
94 



with no inspiration, who take religion up as a very 
responsive subject for art, and mould it in their 
hands like sticky putty. There are magnificent 
parts in it, but you can imagine what a relief it was 
to get back to Jefferies and Liddington Castle. 
(July 1914) 

II 

IBSEN (pp. 61, 62) 

Ibsen's last, John Gabriel Borkman, is a wonder- 
fully fine play, far better than any others by Ibsen 
that I have read or seen, but I can imagine it would 
lose a good deal in an English translation. The 
acting of the two middle-aged sisters who are the 
protagonists was marvellous. The men were a good 
deal more difficult to hear, but also very striking. 
Next to the fineness of the play (which has far more 
poetry in it than any others of his I've read, though 
of course there's a bank in the background, as there 
always seems to be in Ibsen) the apathy of the 
very crowded house struck me most. There was 
very little clapping at the end of the acts : at the end 
of the play none, which was just as well because 
one of them was dead and would have had to jump 
up again. So altogether I am very much struck by 
my first German theatre, though the fineness of the 
play may have much to do with it. It was just a 
little spoilt by the last Act being in a pine forest on 
a hill with sugar that was meant to look like snow. 
This rather took away from the effect of the scene, 
95 



which in the German is one of the finest things 1 
have ever heard, possessing throughout a wonderful 
rhythm which may or may not exist in the original. 
What a beautiful language it can be ! (13 February 
1914) 

I have been reading many criticisms of John 
Gabriel Borkman, and it strikes me more and more 
that it is the most remarkable play I have ever read. 
It is head and shoulders above the others of Ibsen's 
I know: a much broader affair. John Gabriel Bork- 
man is a tremendous character. His great desire, 
which led him to overstep the law for one moment, 
and of course he was caught and got eight years, 
was " Menschengliick zu schaffen 1 ." One moment 
Ibsen lets you see one side of his character (the side 
he himself saw) and you see the Perfect Altruist: 
the next moment the other side is turned, and you 
see the Complete Egoist. The play all takes place 
in the last three hours of J. G. B.'s life, and in these 
three hours his real love, whom he had rejected for 
business reasons and married her twin-sister, shows 
him for the first time^the Egoist that masqueraded 
all its life as Altruist. The technique is perfect and 
it bristles with minor problems. It is absolutely fair, 
for if J. G. B. had sacrificed his ideals and married 
the right twin, he would not have been deserted 
after his disgrace. And the way that during the 
three hours the whole past history of the man comes 

1 To bring about human happiness. 
96 



out is marvellous. The brief dialogue between the 
sisters which closes the piece is fine, and suddenly 
throws a new light on the problem of how the 
tragedy could have been evaded, when you thought 
all that could be said had been said. (20 February 
1914) 

I feel that this visit to Schwerin will spoil me for 
the theatre for the rest of my life. I have never 
ceased to see John Gabriel Borkman mentally since 
my second visit to it (when the acting was even finer 
than before and struck me as a perfect presentation 
of a perfect play). My only regret was that the 
whole family wasn't there as well. I should so like 
to talk it over with you, and the way that at the 
very end of his last play Ibsen sums up the object 
against which all his battle was directed: "Es war 
viel mehr die Kalte die ihn totete." "Die Kalte, 
sagst du, die Kalte! die hat ihn schon langst 
getotet.". . ." Ja, die Herzenskalte 1 ." (10 April 
1914) 

[The play] at the Konigliches Schauspielhaus 2 
[Berlin] was Ibsen's Peer Gynt with Grieg's inci- 
dental music the Northern Faust, as it is called: 
though the mixture of allegory and reality is not 
carried off so successfully as in the Southern Faust. 

1 "It was rather the cold that killed him." "The cold, 
say you, the cold! Why, that killed him long ago."... 
"Yes, coldness of heart." 

* Royal Theatre. 

S.M. 97 7 



Peer Gynt has the advantage of being a far more 
human and amiable creature, and not a cold fish 
like Faust. I suppose that difference is also to be 
found in the characters of the respective authors. 
I always wanted to know why Faust had no rela- 
tions to make demands on him. Peer Gynt is a 
charmingly light piece, with an irresistible mixture 
of fantastical poetry and a very racy humour. The 
scene where Peer returns to his blind and dying 
mother and, like a practical fellow, instead of senti 
mentalizing, sits himself on the end of her bed, per- 
suades her it is a chariot and rides her up to heaven, 
describing the scenes on the way, the surliness of 
St Peter at the gate, the appearance of God the 
Father, who "put Peter quite in the shade" and 
decided to let mother Aasa in, was delightful. The 
acting was of course perfect. (5 June 1914) 

III 

THE ODYSSEY (p. 81) 

The Odyssey is a great joy when once you can 
read it in big chunks and not a hundred lines at a 
time, being [forced] to note all the silly grammatical 
strangenesses. I could not read it in better surround- 
ings for the whole tone of the book is so thoroughly 

German and domestic. A friend of sorts of the s 

died lately; and when the Frau attempted to break 
the news to Karl at table, he immediately said 
"Don't tell me anything sad while I'm eating." 
That very afternoon I came across someone in the 



Odyssey who made, under the same circumstances, 
precisely the same remark 1 . In the Odyssey and in 
Schwerin alike they are perfectly unaffected about 
their devotion to good food. In both too I find the 
double patriotism which suffers not a bit from its 
duplicity in the Odyssey to their little Ithaca as 
well as to Achaea as a whole; here equally to the 
Kaiser and the pug-nosed Grand Duke. In both is 
the habit of longwinded anecdotage in the same 
rambling irrelevant way, and the quite unquench- 
able hospitality. And the Helen of the Odyssey 
bustling about a footstool for Telemachus or show- 
ing off her new presents (she had just returned from 
a jaunt to Egypt) a washing-tub, a spindle, and 
a work-basket that ran on wheels (think !) is the 
perfect German Hausfrau. (27 March 1914) 

If I had the smallest amount of patience, steadi- 
ness or concentrative faculty, I could write a 
brilliant book comparing life in Ithaca, Sparta and 
holy Pylos in the time of Odysseus with life in 

Mecklenburg-Schwerin in the time of Heir Dr . 

In both you get the same unquenchable hospitality 
and perfectly unquenchable anecdotage faculty. In 
both whenever you make a visit or go into a house, 
they are "busying themselves with a meal." Du 

lieber Karl (I mean Heir Dr ) has three times, 

when his wife has tried to talk of death, disease or 
crime [at] table, unconsciously given a literal trans- 

1 Odyssey, iv, 193, 194. 

99 7 2 



lation of Peisistratus's sound remark ov yap eyd> 
ye repTTOfji oovpofievo? /AeraSo/oTrto? 1 and that is 
their attitude to meals throughout. Need I add the 
dy\aa o&pa z they insist on giving their guests, with 
the opinion that it is the host that is the indebted 
party and the possession of a guest confers honour 
and responsibility : and their innate patriotism, the 
ov rot ya> ye ^5 yal^s 8vva/j,ai y\vKepa>Tpov a\\o 
l&ea-Oai 3 spirit (however dull it is) to complete 
the parallel? So I am really reading it in sympa- 
thetic surroundings, and when I have just got past 
the part where Helen shows off to Menelaus her new 
work-basket that runs on wheels, and the Frau 
rushes in to show me her new water-can with a 
spout designed to resemble a pig I see the two 
are made from the same stuff (I mean, of course, 

Helen and Frau , not Frau - - and the pig). 

Also, I enjoy being able to share in a quiet amateur 
way with Odysseus his feelings about "were it but 
the smoke leaping up from his own land." (23 April 
1914) 

Good luck to Helen of Troy. As you say, she 
loved her own sex as well. Her last appearance in 
Homer is when iTelemachus was just leaving her 
and Menelaus after paying them a visit in Sparta, 
"and she stood on the doorstep with a robe in her 

1 I do not like having to lament during supper. 
Odyssey, iv, 193, 194. z Splendid gifts. 

3 I for my part can see nothing sweeter than one's own 
country. Odyssey, ix, 27, 28. 
100 



hand and spoke a word and called him, ' I also am 
giving thee a gift, dear child, this, a memorial of 
Helen's handiwork, against the day of thy marriage 
to which we all look forward, that thou mayest give 
it to thy wife : till then, let it be stored in thy palace 
under thy mother's care.' " But she never gives to 
me the impression in Homer of being quite happy. 
I'm sure she was always dull down in Sparta with 
fatherly old Menelaus though she never showed it 
of course. But there is always something a little 
wistful in her way of speaking. She only made other 
people happy and consequently another set of other 
people miserable. One of the best things in the 
Iliad is the way you are made to feel (without any 
statement) that Helen fell really in love with Hector 
and this shows her good taste, for of all the 
Homeric heroes Hector is the only unselfish man. 
She seems to me only to have loved to please 
Menelaus and Paris but to have really loved Hector 
and naturally, for Hector and Achilles, the altruist 
and the egoist, were miles nobler than any one else 
on either side but Hector never gave any sign 
that he regarded her as anything more than his 
distressed sister-in-law. But after Hector's death 
she must have left part of her behind her, and made 
a real nice wife to poor pompous Menelaus in his old 
age. She seems to have had a marvellous power of 
adaptability. (April 1914) 

I made my pilgrimage on Saturday, when, though 

101 



I had to get up with the lark to hear the energetic 
old Eucken lecture at 7 a.m., I had no lecture after 
10, and went straight off to Weimar. I spent the 
rest of the morning (actually) in the museum, in- 
specting chiefly Preller's wall-paintings of the 
Odyssey. They are the best criticism of the book 
I have seen and gave me a new and more pleasant 
idea of Odysseus. Weimar does not give the same 
impression of musty age as parts of Jena. It seems 
a flourishing well-watered town, and I should like 
very much to live there, chiefly for the sake of the 
park. The name " Park " puts one off, but it is really 
a beautiful place like a college garden on an exten- 
sive scale. After I had wandered about there very 
pleasantly for an hour or so, I noticed a statue in a 
prominent position above me. "Another Goethe," 
thought I ; but I looked at it again, and it had not 
that look of self-confident self-conscious greatness 
that all the Goethes have. So I went up to it and 
recognised a countryman looking down from this 
height on Weimar, with one eye half-closed and an 
attitude of head expressing amused and tolerant 
but penetrating interest. It was certainly the first 
satisfactory representation of Shakespeare I have 
ever seen. It appears quite new, but I could not 
discover the sculptor's name. The one-eye-half- 
closed trick was most effective; you thought "this 
is a very humorous kindly human gentleman" 
then you went round to the other side and saw the 
open eye ! (8 May 1914) 

102 



IV 
GERMANY (p. 73) 

In the evening I am generally to be found avoid- 
ing a certain insincere type of German student, who 
hunts me down ostensibly to "tie a bond of good- 
comradeship," but really to work up facts about 
what "England" thinks. Such people of undevel- 
oped individuality tell me in return what "wir 
Deutschen 1 " think, in a touching national spirit, 
which would have charmed Plato. But they don't 
charm me. Indeed I see in them the very worst 
result of 1871. They have no idea beyond the 
"State," and have put me off Socialism for the 
rest of my life. They are not the kind of people, as 
[the Irish R.M.] puts it, "you could borrow half-a- 
crown to get drunk with." But such is only a small 
proportion and come from the north and west ; they 
just show how Sedan has ruined one type of German, 
for I'm sure the German nature is the nicest in the 
world, as far as it is not warped by the German 
Empire. I like their lack of reserve and self-con- 
sciousness, our two national virtues. They all write 
poetry and recite it with gusto to any three hours' 
old acquaintance. We all write poetry too in Eng- 
land, but we write it on the bedroom wash-stand 
and lock the bedroom door, and disclaim it vehe- 
mently in public. (2 June 1914) 

1 We Germans. 
103 



The two great sins people impute to Germany are 
that she says that might is right and bullies the 
little dogs. But I don't think she means that might 
qua might is right, but that confidence of superiority 
is right, and by superiority she means spiritual 
superiority. She said to Belgium, "We enlightened 
thinkers see that it is necessary to the world that all 
opposition to Deutsche Kultur should be crushed. 
As citizens of the world you must assist us in our 
object and assert those higher ideas of world- 
citizenship which are not bound by treaties. But 
if you oppose us, we have only one alternative." 
That, at least, is what the best of them would have 
said; only the diplomats put it rather more brus- 
quely. She was going on a missionary voyage with 
all the zest of Faust 

Er wandle so den Erdentag entlang; 
Wenn Geister spuken, geh' er seinen Gang; 
Im Weiterschreiten find' er Qual und Gliick, 
Er, unbefriedigt jeden Augenblick! 1 

and missionaries know no law. . . . 

So it seems to me that Germany's only fault (and 
I think you often commented on it in those you 
met) is a lack of real insight and sympathy with 
those who differ from her. We are not fighting a 
bully, but a bigot. They are a young nation and 
don't yet see that what they consider is being done 
for the good of the world may be really being done 
for self-gratification like X. who, under pretence 

1 Faust, n, 6820-3, translated in the last four lines of 
verse on p. in. 






of informing the form, dropped into the habit of 
parading his own knowledge. X. incidentally did 
the form a service by creating great amusement for 
it, and so is Germany incidentally doing the world 
a service (though not in the way it meant) by giving 
them something to live and die for, which no coun- 
try but Germany had before. If the bigot conquers 
he will learn in time his mistaken methods (for it is 
only of the methods and not of the goal of Germany 
that one can disapprove) just as the early Chris- 
tian bigots conquered by bigotry and grew larger 
in sympathy and tolerance after conquest. I regard 
the war as one between sisters, between Martha and 
Mary, the efficient and intolerant against the casual 
and sympathetic. Each side has a virtue for which 
it is fighting, and each that virtue's supplementary 
vice. And I hope that whatever the material result 
of the conflict, it will purge these two virtues of 
their vices, and efficiency and tolerance will no 
longer be incompatible. 

But I think that tolerance is the larger virtue of 
the two, and efficiency must be her servant. So I am 
quite glad to fight against this rebellious servant. 
In fact I look at it this way. Suppose my platoon 
were the world. Then my platoon sergeant would 
represent efficiency and I would represent tolerance. 
And I always take the sternest measures to keep my 
platoon sergeant in check! I fully appreciate the 
wisdom of the War Office when they put inefficient 
officers to rule sergeants. Adsit omen. 
105 



Now you know what Sorley thinks about it. And 
do excuse all his gassing. I know I already over- 
dosed you on those five splendid days between 
Coblenz and Neumagen. But I've seen the Father- 
land (I like to call it the Fatherland, for in many 
families Papa represents efficiency and Mamma 
tolerance but don't think I'm W.S.P.U.) so 
horribly misrepresented that I've been burning to 
put in my case for them to a sympathetic ear. Wir 
sind gewiss Hamburger Jungen, as that lieber 
besoffener Osterreicher told us 1 . And so we must 
stand up for them, even while trying to knock them 
down. (October 1914) 

On return to England, by the way, I renewed my 
acquaintance with Robert Browning. The last line 
of Mr Sludge the Medium "yet there is something 
in it, tricks and all" converted me, and since then 
I have used no other. I wish we could recall him 
from the stars and get him to write a Dramatic 
Idyll or something, giving a soliloquy of the feelings 
and motives and quick changes of heat and cold 
that must be going through the poor Kaiser's mind 
at present. He would really show that impartial 
sympathy for him, which the British press and 
public so doltishly deny him, when in talk and com- 
ment they deny him even the rights of a human 
being. R. B. could do it perfectly or Shakespeare. 

1 To be sure we are Hamburg lads, as that dear old tipsy 
Austrian told us. 

106 






I think the Kaiser not unlike Macbeth, with the 
military clique in Prussia as his Lady Macbeth, and 
the court flatterers as the three weird sisters. He'll 
be a splendid field for dramatists and writers in days 
to come. (October 1914) 

It [a magazine article] brought back to me that 
little crooked old fellow that H. and I met at the 
fag-end of our hot day's walk as we swung into 
Neumagen. His little face was lit with a wild un- 
certain excitement he had not known since 1870, 
and he advanced towards us waving his stick and 
yelling at us "Der Krieg ist los, Junge 1 ," just as we 
might be running to watch a football match and he 
was come to tell us we must hurry up for the game 
had begun. And then the next night on the plat- 
form at Trier, train after train passing crowded with 
soldiers bound for Metz: varied once or twice by a 
truck-load of "swarthier alien crews," thin old 
women like wineskins, with beautiful and piercing 
faces, and big heavy men and tiny aged-looking 
children: Italian colonists exiled to their country 
again. Occasionally one of the men would jump 
out to fetch a glass of water to relieve their thirst 
in all that heat and crowding. The heat of the night 
is worse than the heat of the day, and geistige 
Getranke were verboten 2 . Then the train would 
slowly move out into the darkness that led to Metz 

1 "The war's begun, lad." 

2 Spirituous drinks were forbidden. 

107 






and an exact reproduction of it would steam in and 
fill its place : and \ve watched the signal on the south- 
ward side of Trier, till the lights should give a jump 
and the finger drop and let in the train which was to 
carry us out of that highly-strung and thrilling land. 
At Cologne I saw a herd of some thirty American 
school-marms whom I had assisted to entertain at 
Eucken's just a fortnight before. I shouted out to 
them, but they were far too upset to take any 
notice, but went bobbing into one compartment 
and out again and into another like people in a 
cinematograph. Their haste anxiety and topsjT' 
turviness were caused by thoughts of their own ' 
safety and escape, and though perfectly natural 
contrasted so strangely with all the many other 
signs of haste perturbation and distress that I had 
seen, which were much quieter and stronger and 
more full-bodied than that of those Americans, 
because it was the Vaterland and not the individual 
that was darting about and looking for the way and 
was in need : and the silent submissive unquestion- 
ing faces of 4be dark uprooted Italians peering from 
the squeaking trucks formed a fitting background { 
Cassandra from the backmost car looking steadily 
down on Agamemnon as he stepped from his 
triumphal purple chariot and Clytemnestra offered 
him her hand. (23 November 1914) 

It is surprising how very little difference a total 
change of circumstances and prospects makes in 
108 



the individual. /The German (I know from the 48 
hours of the war that I spent there) is radically 
changed, and until he is sent to the front, his one 
dream and thought will be how quickest to die for 
his country. He is able more clearly to see the tre- 
mendous issues, and changes accordingly. I don't 
know whether it is because the English are more 
phlegmatic or more shortsighted or more egoistic 
or what, that makes them inwardly and outwardly 
so far less shaken by the war than at first seemed 
probable. The German, I am sure, during the 
period of training "dies daily" untif he is allowed 
to die. We go there with our eyes shut. (28 Novem^j 
ber 1914) 

We had a very swinging Christmas one that 
makes one realize (in common with other incidents 
of the war) how near savages we are and how much 
the stomach (which Nietzsche calls the Father of 
Melancholy) is also the best procurer of enjoyment. 
We gave the men a good church (plenty of loud 
hymns), a good dinner (plenty of beer), and the rest 
of the day was spent in sleep. I saw then very 
clearly that whereas for the upper classes Christmas 
is a spiritual debauch in which one remembers for 
a day to be generous and cheerful and open-handed, 
it is only a more or less physical debauch for the 
poorer classes, who need no reminder, since they 
are generous and cheerful and open-handed all the 
year round. One has fairly good chances of observ- 
109 



ing the life of the barrack-room, and what a con- 
trast to the life of a house in a public school ! The 
system is roughly the same: the house-master or 
platoon-commander entrusts the discipline of his 
charge to prefects or corporals, as the case may be. 
They never open their mouths in the barrack-room 
without the introduction of the unprintable swear- 
words and epithets: they have absolutely no 
"morality" (in the narrower, generally accepted 
sense) : yet the public school boy should live among 
them to learn a little Christianity : for they are so 
extraordinarily nice to one another. They live in 
and for the present: we in and for the future. So 
they are cheerful and charitable always: and we 
often niggardly and unkind and spiteful. In the 
gymnasium at Marlborough, how the few clumsy 
specimens are ragged and despised and jeered at 
by the rest of the squad; in the gymnasium here 
you should hear the sounding cheer given to the 
man who has tried for eight weeks to make a long- 
jump of eight feet and at last by the advice and 
assistance of others has succeeded. They seem in- 
stinctively to regard a man singly, at his own rate, 
by his own standards and possibilities, not in com- 
parison with themselves or others: that's why they 
are so far ahead of us in their treatment and sizing 
up of others. 

It's very interesting, what you say about Athens 
and Sparta, and England and Germany. Curious, 
isn't it, that in old days a nation fought another for 
no 



land or money: now we are fighting Germany for 
her spiritual qualities thoroughness, and fearless- 
ness of effort, and effacement of the individual. I 
think that Germany, in spite of her vast bigotry and 
blindness, is in a kind of way living up to the motto 
that Goethe left her in the closing words of Faust, 
before he died. 

Ay, in this thought is my whole life's persistence, 
This is the whole conclusion of the true : 
He only earns his Freedom, owns Existence, 
Who every day must conquer her anew ! 
So let him journey through his earthly day, 
Mid hustling spirits, go his self-found way, 
Find torture, bliss, in every forward stride, 
He, every moment still unsatisfied I 1 

A very close parallel may be drawn between Faust 

and present history (with Belgium as Gretchen). 

And Faust found spiritual salvation in the end! 

(27 December 1914) 

V 
"MANY A BETTER ONE" (p. 78) 

's death was a shock. Still, since Achilles' 

rcdrOave K.OL T[drpoK\o<s o irep (reo TTO\\OV d/j,eiva)v z , 
which should be read at the grave of every corpse 
in addition to the burial service, no saner and 
splendider comment on death has been made, 
especially, as here, where it seemed a cruel waste. 
(28 November 1914) 

1 Faust, ii, 6944-7, 6820-3. 

2 Died Patroclus too who was a far better man than 
thou. Iliad, xxi, 107. 

ill 



VI 

"BLANK SUMMER'S SURFEIT" (p. 79) 

From the time that the May blossom is scattered 
till the first frosts of September, one is always at 
one's worst. Summer is stagnating : there is no more 
spring (in both senses) anywhere. When the corn 
is grown and the autumn seed not yet sown, it has 
only to bask in the sun, to fatten and ripen: a 
damnable time for man, heaven for the vegetables. 
And so I am sunk deep in "Denkfaulheit 1 ," trying 
to catch in the distant but incessant upper thunder 
of the air promise of October rainstorms : long runs 
clad only in jersey and shorts over the Marlborough 
downs, cloked in rain, as of yore: likewise, in the 
aimless toothless grumbling of the guns, promise of 
a great advance to come: hailstones and coals of 
fire. (July 1915) 

VII 
"ETERNALLY TO DO" (p. 80) 

Masefield has founded a new school of poetry and 
given a strange example to future poets ; and this is 
wherein his greatness and originality lies : that he is 
a man of action not imagination. For he has one 
of the fundamental qualities of a great poet a 
thorough enjoyment of life. He has it in a more pre- 
eminent degree than even Browning, perhaps the 
stock instance of a poet who was great because he 
1 Mental lethargy. 

112 






liked life. Everyone has read the latter's lines about 
"the wild joys of living, the leaping from rock up 
to rock." These are splendid lines: but one some- 
how does not feel that Browning ever leapt from 
rock up to rock himself. He saw other people doing 
it, doubtless, and thought it fine. But I don't think 
he did it himself ever. . . . 

Masefield writes that he knows and testifies that 
he has seen. Throughout his poems there are lines 
and phrases so instinct with life, that they betoken 
a man who writes of what he has experienced, not 
of what he thinks he can imagine : who has braved 
the storm, who has walked in the hells, who has seen 
the reality of life: who does not, like Tennyson, shut 
off the world he has to write about, attempting to 
imagine shipwrecks from the sofa, or battles in his 
bed. Compare for instance Enoch Arden and 
Dauber. One is a dream : the other, life 

The sower, who reaps not, has found a voice at 
last a harsh rough voice, compelling, strong, 
triumphant. Let us, the reapers where we have not 
sown, give ear to it. Are they not much better than 
we? The voice of our poets and men of letters is 
finely trained and sweet to hear; it teems with sharp 
saws and rich sentiment : it is a marvel of delicate 
technique: it pleases, it flatters, it charms, it 
soothes : it is a living lie. The voice ot John Mase- 
field rings rough and ill trained: it tells a story, it 
leaves the thinking to the reader, it gives him no 
dessert of sentiment, cut, dried, and ready made 
S.M. 113 8 



I 



to go to sleep on: it jars, it grates, it makes him 
wonder; it is full of hope and faith and power and 
strife and God. Till Mr Masefield came on earth, 
the poetry of the world had been written by the 
men who lounged, who looked on. It is sin in a man 
to write of the world before he has known the world, 
and the failing of every poet up till now has been 
that he has written of what he loved to imagine but 
dared not to experience. But Masefield writes that 
he knows and testifies that he has seen; with him 
expression is the fruit of action, the sweat of a body 
that has passed through the fire. 

We stand by the watershed of English poetry; for 
the vastness and wonder of modern life has demand- 
ed that men should know what they write about. 
Behind us are the poets of imagination; before us 
are the poets of fact. For Masefield as a poet may be 
bad or good : I think him good, but you may think 
him bad : but, good or bad, he has got this quality 
which no one can deny and few belittle. He is the 
first of a multitude of coming poets (so I trust and 
pray) who are men of action before they are men of 
speech and men of speech because they are men of 
action. Those whom, because they do not live in 
our narrow painted groove, we call the Lower 
Classes, it is they who truly know what life is: so 
to them let us look for the true expression of life. 
One has already arisen, and his name is Masefield. 
We await the coming of others in his train. (Essay 
on Masefield, 3 November 1912) 
114 



The war is a chasm in time. . .In a job like this, 
one lives in times a year ago and a year hence, 
alternately. Keine Nachricht 1 . A large amount of 
organized disorderliness, killing the spirit. A vague- 
ness and a dullness everywhere: an unromantic 
sitting still 100 yards from Brother Bosch. There's 
something rotten in the state of something. One 
feels it but cannot be definite of what. Not even is 
there the premonition of something big impending : 
gathering and ready to burst. None of that feeling 
of confidence, offensiveness, "personal ascendancy," 
with which the reports so delight our people at 
home. Mutual helplessness and lassitude, as when 
two boxers who have battered each other crouch 
dancing two paces from each other, waiting for the 
other to hit. Improvised organization, with its red 
hat, has muddled out romance. It is not the strong 
god of the Germans that makes their Prussian 
Beamter 2 so bloody and their fight against fearful 
odds so successful. Our organization is like a nasty 
fat old frowsy cook dressed up in her mistress's 
clothes : fussy, unpopular, and upstart : trailing the 
scent of the scullery behind her. In periods of rest 
we are billeted in a town of sewage farms, mean 
streets, and starving cats: delightful population: 
but an air of late June weariness. For Spring again ! 
This is not Hell as I hoped, but Limbo Lake with 
green growths on the water, full of minnows. 

So one lives in a year ago and a year hence. 

1 No news. 2 Official. 

115 8 2 



What are your feet doing, a year hence?. . .where, 
while riding in your Kentish lanes, are you riding 
twelve months hence? I am sometimes in Mexico, 
selling cloth : or in Russia, doing Lord knows what : 
in Serbia or the Balkans : in England, never. Eng- 
land remains the dream, the background: at once 
the memory and the ideal. Sorley is the Gaelic for 
wanderer. I have had a conventional education: 
Oxford would have corked it. But this has freed the 
spirit, glory be. Give me the Odyssey, and I return 
the New Testament to store. Physically as well as 
spiritually, give me the road. 

Only sometimes the horrible question of bread 
and butter shadows the dream: it has shadowed 
many, I should think. It must be tackled. But I 
always seek to avoid the awkward, by postponing it. 

You figure in these dreams as the pioneer-ser- 
geant. Perhaps you are the Odysseus, I am but one 
of the dog-like eratpot 1 . . .But however that may 
be, our lives will be Tro\v7r\ayKToi z , though our 
paths may be different. And we will be buried by 
the sea 

Timon will make his everlasting mansion 
Upon the beach6d verge of a salt flood, 
Which twice a day with his embossed froth 
The turbulent surge shall cover. 

Details can wait perhaps for ever. These are 
the plans. (16 June 1915) 

1 Comrades. 2 Far-roaming. 

116 



VIII 
"THE GRANDEUR OF THEIR MESS" (p. 82) 

I am bleached with chalk and grown hairy. And 
I think exultantly and sweetly of the one or two or 
three outstandingly admirable meals of my life. One 
in Yorkshire, in an inn upon the moors, with a fire 
of logs and ale and tea and every sort of Yorkshire 
bakery, especially bears me company. And yet 
another in Mecklenburg-Schwerin (where they are 
very English) in a farm-house utterly at peace in 
broad fields sloping to the sea. I remember a tureen 
of champagne in the middle of the table to which we 
helped ourselves with ladles ! I remember my hun- 
ger after three hours' ride over the country : and the 
fishing-town of Wismar lying like an English town 
on the sea. In that great old farm-house where I 
dined at 3 p.m. as the May day began to cool, fruit 
of sea and of land joined hands together, fish fresh 
caught and ducks fresh killed : it was a wedding of 
the elements. It was perhaps the greatest meal I 
have had ever, for everything we ate had been alive 
that morning the champagne was alive yet. We 
feasted like kings till the sun sank, for it was im- 
possible to overeat. Twas Homeric and its memory 
fills many hungry hours. (5 October 1915) 



117 



IX 

"THE OLD WAR-JOY, THE OLD WAR-PAIN" (p. 83) 

This is a little hamlet, smelling pleasantly of 
manure. I have never felt more restful. We 
arrived at dawn : white dawn across the plane trees 
and coming through the fields of rye. After two 
hours in an oily ship and ten in a grimy train, the 
"war area" was a haven of relief. These French 
trains shriek so: there is no sight more desolating 
than abandoned engines passing up and down the 
lines, hooting in their loneliness. There is some- 
thing eerie in a railway by night. 

But this is perfect. The other officers have heard 
the heavy guns and perhaps I shall soon. They 
make perfect cider in this valley: still, like them. 
There are clouds of dust along the roads, and in the 
leaves: but the dust here is native and caressing 
and pure, not like the dust of Aldershot, gritted 
and fouled by motors and thousands of feet. Tis 
a very Limbo lake : set between the tireless railways 
behind and twenty miles in front the fighting. 
Drink its cider and paddle in its rushy streams: 
and see if you care whether you die to-morrow. It 
brings out a new part of oneself, the loiterer, neither 
scorning nor desiring delights, gliding listlessly 
through the minutes from meal-time to meal-time, 
like the stream through the rushes : or stagnant and 
smooth like their cider, unfathomably gold : beauti- 
118 



ful and calm without mental fear. And in four-score 
hours we will pull up our braces and fight. These 
hours will have slipt over me, and I shall march hotly 
to the firing-line, by turn critic, actor, hero, coward, 
and soldier of fortune : perhaps even for a moment 
Christian, humble, with "Thy will be done." Then 
shock, combustion, the emergence of one of these : 
death or life : and then return to the old rigmarole. 
I imagine that this, while it may or may not knock 
about your body, will make very little difference to 
you otherwise. 

A speedy relief from Chatham. There is vibration 
in the air when you hear "The Battalion will move 
across the water on " 

The moon won't rise till late, but there is such 
placid weariness in all the bearing earth, that I must 
go out to see. I have not been "auf dem Lande 1 " 
for many years : man muss den Augenblick genies- 
sen 2 . (i June 1915) 

Your letter arrived and awoke the now drifting 
ME to consciousness. I had understood and ac- 
quiesced in your silence. The re-creation of that 
self which one is to a friend is an effort: repaying 
if it succeeds, but not to be forced. Wherefore, were 
it not for the dangers dancing attendance on the 
adjourning type of mind which a year's military 
training has not been able to efface from me I 

1 In the country. 

2 One must enjoy the passing moment. 

119 



should not be writing to you now. For it is just 
after breakfast and you know what breakfast is: 
putter to sleep of all mental energy and discontent : 
charmer, sedative, leveller: maker of Britons. I 
should wait till after tea when the undiscriminating 
sun has shown his back a fine back on the world, 
and oneself by the aid of tea has thrown off the 
mental sleep of heat. But after tea I am on duty. 
So with bacon in my throat and my brain like a 

poached egg I will try to do you justice 

I wonder how long it takes the "King's Pawn, 
who so proudly initiates the game of chess, to 
realize that he is a pawn. Same with us. We are 
finding out that we play the unimportant if neces- 
sary part. At present a dam, untested, whose 
presence not whose action stops the stream from 
approaching: and then a mere handle to steel: 
dealers of death which we are not allowed to plan. 
But I have complained enough before of the minion 
state of the " damned foot." It is something to have 
no responsibility an inglorious ease of mind. . . . 

Health and I don't know what ill-health is 
invites you so much to smooth and shallow ways: 
where a happiness may only be found by renouncing 
the other happiness of which one set out in search. 
Yet here there is enough to stay the bubbling sur- 
face stream. Looking into the future one sees a 
holocaust somewhere: and at present there is 
thank God enough of "experience" to keep the 
wits edged (a callous way of putting it, perhaps). 
120 



But out in front at night in that no-man's land and 
long graveyard there is a freedom and a spur. 
Rustling of the grasses and grave tap-tapping of 
distant workers : the tension and silence of encoun- 
ter, when one struggles in the dark for moral victory 
over the enemy patrol: the wail of the exploded 
bomb and the animal cries of wounded men. Then 
death and the horrible thankfulness when one sees 
that the next man is dead: "We won't have to 
carry him in under fire, thank God; dragging will 
do " : hauling in of the great resistless body in the 
dark: the smashed head rattling: the relief, the 
relief that the thing has ceased to groan : that the 
bullet or bomb that made the man an animal has 
now made the animal a corpse. One is hardened by 
now: purged of all false pity: perhaps more selfish 
than before. The spiritual and the animal get so 
much more sharply divided in hours of encounter, 
taking possession of the body by swift turns. (26 
August 1915) 

The chess players are no longer waiting so in- 
fernal long between their moves. And the patient 
pawns are all in movement, hourly expecting fur- 
ther advances whether to be taken or reach the 
back lines and be queened. Tis sweet, this pawn- 
being: there are no cares, no doubts: wherefore no 
regrets. The burden which I am sure is the parent 
of ill-temper drunkenness and premature old age 
to wit, the making up of one's own mind is lifted 

121 



from our shoulders. I can now understand the value 
of dogma, which is the General Commander-in-chief 
of the mind. I am now beginning to think that free 
thinkers should give their minds into subjection, 
for we who have given our actions and volitions into 
subjection gain such marvellous rest thereby. Only 
of course it is the subjecting of their powers of will 
and deed to a wrong master on the part of a great 
nation that has led Europe into war. Perhaps after- 
wards I and my likes will again become indis- 
criminate rebels. For the present we find high 
relief in making ourselves soldiers. (5 October 



X 

"PERHAPS THE ROAD UP ILSLEY WAY, 
THE OLD RIDGE-TRACK, WILL BE MY WAY" 

(P- 83) 

No ! When I next come down to Marlborough it 
shall be an entry worthy of the place and of the 
enterer. Not in khaki, with gloves and a little cane, 
with creased trousers from Aldershot "dyed gar- 
ments from Bozrah" but in grey bags, an old coat 
and a knapsack, coming over the downland from 
Chiseldon, putting up at the Sun! Then after a 
night there and a tattered stroll through the High 
Street, feeling perhaps the minor inconveniences of 
complete communion with Nature, I should put on 
a gentlemanly suit and crave admittance at your 
door, talk old scandal, search old House-books, 
132 



swank in Court and sing in Chapel and be a regular 
O.M. : retaining always the right on Monday after- 
noon (it always rains on Mondays in Marlborough) 
to sweat round Barbury and Totterdown, what time 
you dealt out nasty little oblong unseens to the 
Upper VI. This would be my Odyssey. At present 
I am too cornered by my uniform for any such 
luxuries. (May 1915) 

There is really very little to say about the life 
here. Change of circumstance, I find, means little 
compared to change of company. And as one has 
gone out and is still with the same officers with 
whom one had rubbed shoulders unceasingly for 
the last nine months, and of whom one had acquired 
that extraordinarily intimate knowledge which 
comes of constant avvovcrid 1 , one does not notice 
the change : until one or two or three drop off. And 
one wonders why. 

They are extraordinarily close, really, these 
friendships of circumstance, distinct as they remain 

from friendships of choice Only, I think, once 

or twice does one stumble across that person into 
whom one fits at once: to whom one can stand 
naked, all disclosed. But circumstance provides the 
second best: and I'm sure that any gathering of 
men will in time lead to a very very close half- 
friendship between them all (I only say half-friend- 
ship because I wish to distinguish it from the other). 

1 Companionship. 
123 



So there has really been no change in coming over 
here: the change is to come when half of this im- 
provised "band of brothers" are wiped away in a 
day. We are learning to be soldiers slowly that is 
to say, adopting the soldierly attitude of complete 
disconnection with our job during odd hours. No 
shop. So when I think I should tell you " something 
about the trenches," I find I have neither the in- 
clination nor the power. 

This however. On .our weekly march from the 
trenches back to our old farmhouse a mile or two 
behind, we leave the communication-trench for a 
road, hedged on one side only, with open ploughland 
to the right. It runs a little down hih 1 till the road 
branches. Then half left up over open country goes 
our track, with the ground shelving away to the 
right of us. Can you see it? The Toll House to the 
First Post on Trainers Down on a small scale. There 
is something in the way that at the end of the hedge 
the road leaps up to the left into the beyond that 
puts me in mind of Trainers Down. It is what that 
turn into unhedged country and that leap promises, 
not what it achieves, that makes the likeness. It is 
nothing when you get up, no wildness, no open- 
ness. But there it remains to cheer me on each 
relief 

I hear that a very select group of public schools 

will by this time be enjoying the Camp " somewhere 

in England." May they not take it too seriously! 

Seein' as 'ow all training is washed out as soon as 

124 



you turn that narrow street corner at Boulogne, 
where some watcher with a lantern is always up 
for the English troops arriving, with a "Bon 
courage" for every man. 

A year ago to-day but that way madness lies. 
(4 August 1915) 



NOTES 

I', i (i). Barbury Camp is on the northern escarp- 
ment of the Marlborough downs, between five and six 
miles north by west from Marlborough. The camp on 
the summit is of pre-Roman origin. The preference 
for rain and windy weather, shown in this and other 
poems in the book, has suggested the poem entitled 
"Sorley's Weather" by Captain Robert Graves 
(Fairies and Fusiliers, 1917) which ends with the verse, 
Yet rest there, Shelley, on the sill, 

For though the winds come frorely 
I'm away to the rain-blown hill 
And the ghost of Sorley. 

P. 6 (n). Printed in The Marlburian, 28 July 1913. 
In this case, and in a few other cases, the text in the 
book varies slightly from that given in The Marlburian. 
In these variations the author's manuscript has been 
followed. 

P. 8 (in). The Marlburian, 3 December 1913. East 
Kennet is a village on the Kennet between four and five 
miles west of Marlborough. A correspondent, who is 
familiar with the district, thinks that the church seen 
by the author from the cornfield was not that of East 
Kennet but the neighbouring church of West Overton. 

P. 10 (iv). The Marlburian, g October 1913. This 
poem, said the author, in sending a copy of it home 
from Germany, "has too much copy from Meredith in 
it, but I value it as being (with ' Return ') a memorial 
of my walk to Marlborough last September" (1913). 
The scenery of this walk is recalled in xxxvi (pp. 83, 
84). P. n, line 2: hedge's, bird's; the apostrophe was 
misplaced in editions i to 3. 

P. 15 (vi). The Marlburian, 9 October 1913. This 
poem is a result of the same walk as iv and v. Lidding- 
ton Castle is about seven miles north by east from 
127 



Marlborough and, like Barbury Camp, guards the 
northern frontier of the downs. Describing a walk 
three months before, the author wrote, " I then scaled 
Liddington Castle, which is no more a castle than I am, 
but a big hill with a fine Roman camp on the top, and 
a view all down the Vale of the White Horse to the 
north and the Kennet valley to the south. I sat there 
for about an hour, reading Wild Life in a Southern 
County, with which I had come armed the most 
appropriate place in the world to read it from, as it 
was on Liddington Castle that Richard Jeff cries wrote 
it and many others of his books, and as it is Jefferies' 
description of how he saw the country from there." 
Line 7 : Coate, a village to the south (now a suburb) of 
Swindon, and the birthplace of Jefferies. 

P. 16 (vn). The Marlburian, g October 1913. This 
poem is a lament over the departure of a Marlborough 
master, the laureate of the school, who had resigned 
and left Marlborough at the end of the previous sum- 
mer term. The author's acquaintance with him was 
entirely an out-of-school one. See note on xxxvi. 
Line i : Granham hill, on the opposite side of the 
Kennet from Marlborough College. The horse is a 
rather inferior specimen of the "white horses," cut 
out in the chalk, of which there are other and more 
famous examples in the Wiltshire and Berkshire 
downs. It was cut by boys of a local proprietary 
school in 1804. Line 3: Four Miler, the school name 
for Four Mile Clump, so called because it lies at the 
fourth milestone on the old Swindon Road ; it is in the 
same direction as Barbury Camp and about a mile 
short of it. Line 19 : toun o' touns, one of several echoes 
in the poem of J. B.'s school songs "The Scotch Marl- 
burian" and "All Aboard." 

P. 17 (vm). The Marlburian, 10 February 1914. 
Oare Hill is on the north-eastern border of Pewsey 
Vale between three and four miles from Marlborough 
128 



College. West Woods are on the western side of the 
valley and nearer Maryborough. 

P. 26 (x). Line n: Clinton Stiles has not been 
identified and is probably imaginary. 

P. 29 (xi). This poem was sent to a friend in 
December 1914. The author wiote, "I have tried for 
long to express in words the impression that the land 
north of Marlborough must leave. . . . Simplicity, 
paucity of words, monotony almost, and mystery are 
necessary. I think I have got it at last." Sending it 
home, along with a number of others, in April 1915, 
he described it as " the last of my Marlborough poems." 
Line 7 : the signpost, which figures here as well as else- 
where (pp. 76, 83) in the poems, stands at "the junc- 
tion of the grass tracks on the Aldbourne [Poulton] 
downs to Ogbourne, Marlborough, Mildenhall, and 
Aldbourne. It stands up quite alone." 

P. 33 (xn). The Marlburian, 31 October 1912. 
Line 2: Court, the quadrangle, surrounded by class- 
rooms, hall, chapel, and college houses, and inter- 
sected by a lime-tree avenue between the gate and 
C House. This house (to which the author belonged) 
was the old mansion of the Seymours, built in the 
middle of the seventeenth century, and is the only 
ancient part of the college buildings. Line 6: sweat 
(school slang), run. P. 34, line i: Four Miler, see 
note on vn. 

P. 36 (xm). The Marlburian, n November 1912. 
Line 2: kish (pronounced kish), a flat cushion which 
folds double and is used by the boys as a book-carrier. 
The "bloods" (or athletic aristocrats of the school) 
affect garish colours (loud and gay] for the lining of 
their kishes. Line 4: barnes (school slang), trousers. 
The school rules for dress are slightly relaxed for 
"bloods." Line n: forty-cap, for football, equivalent 
to about second fifteen obtained by the author a 
year after these verses were written. 

S.M. 129 9 



P. 40 (x,iv). The Marlburian, 10 July 1913. 

P. 45 (xv). The Marlburian, 31 October 1912. 

P. 48 (xvi). The Marlburian, 19 December 1912 
The lines 

I know that there is beauty where the low streams run, 
And the weeping of the willows and the big sunk sun, 
are perhaps the only lines in the book which recall the 
scenery of the author's Cambridge home. 

P. 51 (xvn). The Marlburian, 25 February 1913. 
This poem, as there printed, was preceded by the 
explanation, "Early in January a man, without any 
conceivable reason for doing so, drowned himself in 

the . The verdict at the inquest was, as is usual in 

such cases, 'Suicide during temporary insanity.' This 
is the truth." Line 18: river, by mistake printed 
river's in editions i to 3. 

P. 54 (xviii). The Marlburian, 13 March 1913. 
Line 15: the highway and the way, cp. Isaiah xxxv. 8. 

P. 56 (xix). The Marlburian, 10 July 1913. The 
rookery referred to is evidently that in the Wilderness, 
lying between C House and the bathing-place, and 
visible from the author's dormitory window. Under- 
neath the trees in the Wilderness a good deal of 
rubbish (rusty iron, etc.) had been thrown. 

P. 57 (xx). The Marlburian, 28 July 1913. 

Pp. 61, 62 (xxm, xxiv), entitled in the author's 
manuscript "Two Songs from Ibsen's Dramatic 
Poems." They are not translations from Ibsen, but 
the author's own impressions of the dramatist's 
characters. 

P. 66 (xxvu). This poem had its origin in the 
author's journey from the Officers' Training Camp at 
Churn in Berkshire to join his regiment at Shorn cliff e 
on 18 September 1914, when be arrived at Paddington 
Station shortly before the special train left which took 
the Marlborough boys back to school for the term. The 

130 



first draft of the poem was sent to a friend soon after- 
wards with the words, "Enclosed the poem which 
eventually came out of the first day of term at Pad- 
dington. Not much trace of the origin left; but I think 
it should get a prize for being the first poem written 
since August 4th that isn't patriotic." The draft 
differs in one place from the final form of the poem, 
and, instead of the present title, it is preceded by the 
verse, " And these all, having obtained a good report 
through faith, received not the promise." 

P. 68 (xxix). Printed, after the author's death, in 
The Times Literary Supplement, 28 October 1915. 

P. 71 (xxx). There is external evidence, though it is 
not quite conclusive, for dating this poem in August 
1914. 

P. 73 (xxxi). There is the same evidence for dating 
this poem also in August 1914. 

P. 76 (xxxin). A copy of the former of these two 
sonnets was sent to a friend with the title "Death 
and the Downs." The title in the book is taken from 
the copy sent home by the author. 

P. 78 (xxxiv) . This sonnet was found in the author's 
kit sent home from France after his death. 

P. 79 (xxxv). This poem was sent to a friend in 
July 1915. It appeared for the first time in the second 
edition. 

P. 81 (xxxvi). The epistle in verse (fragments of 
which have been communicated to the editor and are 
printed here) was sent anonymously to J. B. (see note 
to vii). He discovered the authorship by sending the 
envelope of the letter to a Marlborough master, and 
replied in the beautiful verses which the editor is 
allowed to quote: 

From far away there comes a Voice, 

Singing its song across the sea 
A song to make man's heart rejoice 

Of Marlborough and the Odyssey. 



A Voice that sings of Now and Then, 

Of minstrel joys and tiny towns. 
Of flowering thyme and fighting men, 

Of Sparta's sands and Marlborough's Downs. 

God grant, dear Voice, one day again 
We see those Downs in April weather, 

And snuff the breeze and smell the rain, 
And stand in C House Porch together. 

P. 82, line ii : K.r.X. (kai ta loipa), et cetera. Line 
13: doiSos (aoidos), minstrel. P. 83, line u: Ilsley, 
about twenty miles due east of Swindon and on the 
northern slope of the Berkshire downs. Line 23: the 
Ogbourne twins, Ogbourne St George and Ogbourne 
St Andrew, villages in the Valley of the Og, about five 
and three miles respectively north of Marlborough. 
Line 26: Aldbourne downs, on the eastern side of the 
Og and adjoining the Marlborough downs. P. 84, 
line 4: fparetvrj (erateine), lovely. Line n: Bedwyn, 
Great and Little Bedwyn, about a mile from the south- 
eastern corner of Savernake forest and about six miles 
from Marlborough. 

P. 85 (xxxvn). Printed, after the author's death, 
in The Marlburian, 24 November 1915. Sidney Clayton 
< Woodroffe, killed in action at Hooge on 30 July 1915 
and awarded a posthumous V.C., was a school con- 
temporary of the author. 

P. 86 (xxxvm). This prose description is extracted 
from a letter home. The title has been supplied by the 
editor. P. 87, line 24: Oavfido-iov o<rov, wonderfully 
great. 

P. in. The lines translated from Faust are almost 
the only example of verse translation by the author. 
Another specimen, which was found in a school note- 
book, is a rendering of Horace, Odes, I, 24. It is not 
likely that he would have printed it himself, but it is 
quoted here as an epilogue to these notes. 

132 



QUIS DESIDERIO 

Check not thy tears, nor be ashamed to sorrow 
For one so dear. Sing us a plaintive song, 

O Muse, who from thy sire the lute didst borrow 
The lute and notes melodious and strong. 

So will he wake again from slumber never? 

O,. when will Purity, to Justice dear, 
Faith unalloyed and Truth unspotted ever, 

When will these virtues ever find his peer? 

For him the tears of noble men are flowing, 

But thine, O Virgil, bitterest of all ! 
Thou prayest God to give him back, not knowing 

He may not, cannot hearken to thy call. 

For if thy lyre could move the forests, swelling 
More sweetly than the Thracian bard's of old, 

His soul could not revisit its old dwelling; 
For now among the dead he is enrolled 

By Mercury, all deaf to supplication. 

Obdurate, gathering all with ruthless rod. 

'Tis hard; but Patience lightens Tribulation 
When to remove it is denied by God. 



133 



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